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Insurance Underwriters

Insurance underwriters examine insurance applications to evaluate the degree of risk involved and to determine if the application should be accepted. They write the insurance policies that cover the risk. An insurance underwriter also establishes premiums and other charges. Underwriters also analyze group contracts to make sure the risk is not excessive. Insurance underwriters are the primary link between the insurance carrier and the insurance agent.

An insurance company can loose business if the insurance underwriter appraises risk too conservatively. The company might have to pay excessive claims if the underwriters actions are too liberal.

Insurance underwriters have specializations such as commercial account underwriters, mortgage underwriters, property/casualty underwriters, health underwriters and life insurance underwriters.

Those in the insurance underwriting field utilize computer applications known as "smart systems" to manage risk more accurately and effectively. The systems evaluate and rate insurance applications, recommend an applicant be accepted or denied and make appropriate adjustments to the premium rate in accordance with the risk.


  • Study documents to determine the degree of risk from elements such as the applicants financial situation and the value and condition of property
  • Reject excessive risks
  • Assess the possibility of losses due to catastrophe or excessive insurance
  • Lower the value of the insurance policy when the risk is substandard
  • Apply rating to make sure safe, profitable distribution of risks
  • Gather information
  • Authorize reinsurance of policy when risk is high
  • Examine company records in order to determine the amount of insurance in force on single risk or group of closely related risks

Job Characteristics

Most workers involved in insurance underwriting are based in company headquarters or a regional branch office. Underwriters may occasionally be asked to travel in order to attend meetings. Insurance underwriters usually work a 40 hour week, however some work overtime due to downsizing at insurance companies. Occasionally they accompany insurance sales agents to make presentations to potential clients.

Underwriters use the Internet to access information. Strong computer skills, ability to pay attention to detail and good analyzing abilities are important. An underwriter should also have good interpersonal and communication skills.

Employment Outlook

Employment for underwriters is forecasted to grow by 6 percent form 2006 to 2016 which is slower than average for all occupations. Those with insurance related experience, a finance background and good computer and communications skills have the best opportunities for advancement. In addition, underwriters are needed in the area of product development.

Experienced insurance underwriters have opportunities to advance into senior underwriter or underwriting management jobs. Over sixty percent of the underwriters are employed by insurance carriers. Most of the other underwriting jobs are provided by insurance agencies or by organizations that provide insurance services to insurance companies and policyholders.

A small number of insurance underwriters are employed by mortgage companies, banks and real estate firms. In addition, the median annual earnings in 2006 for insurance underwriters was $52,350.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

There are no formal education requirements for the job. However, typically a bachelor's degree in finance or business administration or other subjects is preferred or a professional designation. Important classes to take for insurance underwriters are economics, business, accounting, statistics, business law and mathematics. Computer classes are also helpful.

Most underwriters begin their careers as trainees. Some of the large insurers provide work-study programs that take from a few months to a year to complete. The computer programs utilized by underwriters to assess risk are continually being improved, thus on-the-job computer training can continue throughout an insurance underwriter's career.

The Insurance Institute of America provides a training program designed for beginning underwriters. The organization also provides the Associate in Commercial Underwriting for people interested in underwriting business insurance policies. The organization also offers an associate in Personal Insurance Designation.


Major Employers

The major job providers are insurance carriers. Insurance agencies are significant job providers.

Schools for Insurance Underwriters are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Insurance Underwriters

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Insurance Underwriters jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 5,640 $76,110
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 3,190 $80,990
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 2,140 $73,110
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford 1,990 $79,480
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 1,650 $81,520
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 1,350 $79,580
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 1,280 $68,100
Des Moines-West Des Moines 1,240 $69,930
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood 1,220 $78,860
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 1,200 $86,650

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to insurance underwriters

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Insurance Underwriters

To find out more about building a career as Insurance Underwriters, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Insurance Underwriters

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Insurance 86,440 87% $56,740
Banking And Credit 4,910 4% $58,130
Business Management 3,460 3% $56,490
Pension And Trusts 1,110 1% $56,770
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Insurance Underwriters.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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