Career and Job Search Guide

Insurance Underwriter

Insurance companies provide products that protect people from financial losses during emergencies. It is the responsibility of insurance underwriters to decide whether to extend insurance coverage to potential clients, determine the conditions of individual policies, and set insurance premiums. An underwriter's job is difficult since insuring too much risk can result in large claims and assuming too little can result in fewer clients.

Underwriters now use computer technology to review insurance applications and assess risk. Often included with applications are documents and reports providing supplemental information. After careful review, underwriters must determine whether to assume the insurance risk and what premium to charge a client. Underwriters base their decisions on many factors. If a client was applying for a health insurance policy, the underwriter would base a decision on the client's heath history, age, whether the person smokes, and the current health of the client. Underwriters often collaborate with insurance agents and insurance company representatives when making sales presentations for interested individuals.

As mentioned, underwriters increasingly utilize computer technology, known as smart systems, to determine risks and premiums. This technology has enabled underwriters to better determine risks and decrease losses.

Underwriters are increasingly using the internet to access information about potential clients necessary to determine risk, so they do not spend as much time doing paperwork.

Underwriters usually specialize in mortgage, health, life, casualty, and property insurance. Those who specialize in health and life insurance often have expertise in individual or group insurance plans.

More life and health insurance policies are issued to groups of people with a single contract and premiums after underwriters decide to assume the risk. Casualty insurance, policies that provide individualized coverage for a group, is designed to accommodate customers' needs. For example, when determining insurance rates for family members in a group auto insurance policy, an underwriter evaluates each member on the policy and determines premiums individually. Underwriters often meet with union and company representatives to determine the best policies for their members and employees.

Underwriters preparing property and casualty policies often specialize in specific types of personal or commercial insurance, such as car, fire, and workers' compensation insurance. When underwriters prepare these types of policies and combine multiple risks into a single policy, often known as a package policy, underwriters need to be familiar with each risk. When developing business insurance policies, underwriters usually examine each aspect of a company's business operations.

Work environment. Underwriters spend the majority of their days in comfortable offices located at a regional branch of a national insurance company. However, underwriters often travel to meet with clients and attend meetings. Underwriters specializing in construction insurance spend a lot of time at construction sites evaluating risks.

Underwriters usually work 40 hour weeks, but since many insurance companies are cutting staff, more underwriters are required to work longer hours. Certain underwriters work nights and weekends.