Insurance Underwriter  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insurance Underwriters Career Video

Insider Info

dotAn insurance underwriter is the person in an insurance company who decides whether a certain person, company or piece of property should be insured and at what rates.

They evaluate insurance applications to determine insurance risks, premiums and coverage.

dotThe term "underwriter" dates back to 18th-century England. Those willing to share the risk of a ship's voyage in exchange for sharing in its profits wrote their names on a blackboard under the name of the ship.

dotOnce an agent or broker has filled out an insurance policy, the next person to see the application is the underwriter.

dotAn underwriter looks at all the information on a policy and the statistics produced by actuaries. Then they decide if that policy is a good or bad risk. There's a saying in the insurance business that a company's success depends on the skills of its underwriters.

dotUnderwriters are important because if policies are priced too low, their insurance company could stand to lose money. If the policies are priced too high, the company will not be able to compete with other companies.

Once an underwriter accepts that a policy is a reasonable risk, he or she makes sure that the proper kind of policy is issued and the proper rates are charged.

dotUnderwriters work in all areas of insurance -- including life, auto, property and casualty insurance.

dotUnderwriters usually enjoy working with details and analyzing information. In addition, underwriters must possess good judgment in order to make sound decisions. They must also be imaginative and aggressive, especially when they have to obtain information from outside sources.

dot"You'd better not be afraid of paperwork either," says Kim Lo, an insurance analyst.

dotUnderwriters use computer applications called "smart systems" to manage risks more efficiently and accurately.

They enter information relating to a person or organization whose application for insurance is pending into a computer. These systems automatically analyze and rate insurance applications, then recommend acceptance or denial of the risk, or they adjust the premium rate in accordance with the risk.

Underwriters are then better equipped to make sound decisions in an effort to avoid excessive losses in the future.

dotUsually, underwriters work at a desk and use a computer to do their work. They may occasionally be required to travel to attend conferences or to look at property or other items that need to be insured.

This isn't a particularly physically demanding job, so those with disabilities should have no problem.

dotYou may be required to work overtime. But generally, it's a 40-hour-a-week job.

Just the Facts

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At a Glance

Evaluate insurance applications to determine insurance risks, premiums and coverage

  • You'll need computer expertise to get ahead in the field
  • The term "underwriter" dates back to 18th-century England
  • You may need a university degree