What is a Underwriter?

Also known as: Insurance Underwriter, Commercial Underwriter, Commercial Lines Underwriter, Automobile and Property Underwriter, Life Underwriter, Health Underwriter, Personal Lines Underwriter, Account Underwriter.

An underwriter is someone who will look at a person's history to determine whether he or she can be approved for insurance and under what terms. They evaluate insurance applications and determine coverage amounts and premiums by using math based on actuarial science.

What does a Underwriter do?

An underwriter evaluates a person's insurance applications and determines approval for coverage.

Underwriters typically do the following:

  • Analyze information in insurance applications
  • Determine the risk of insuring a client
  • Screen applicants on the basis of set criteria
  • Evaluate recommendations from underwriting software
  • Decide whether to offer insurance
  • Determine appropriate premiums and amounts of coverage
  • Write policies to cover potential loss

Underwriters are the main link between an insurance company and an insurance agent. Underwriters use computer software programs to determine whether to approve an applicant. They take specific information about a client and enter it into a program. The program then provides recommendations on coverage and premiums.

Underwriters evaluate these recommendations and, using predetermined criteria, decide whether to approve or reject the application. If a decision is difficult, they may consult additional sources such as medical documents and credit scores.

Underwriters must achieve a balance between risky and cautious decisions. If underwriters allow too much risk, the insurance company will pay out too many claims. But if they don't approve enough applications, the company will not make enough money from premiums.

Most underwriters specialize in one of four broad fields: life, health, mortgage, and property and casualty. Although job duties are similar, the criteria used by underwriters vary. For example, for someone seeking life insurance, underwriters consider age and financial history. For someone applying for car insurance (a form of property and casualty insurance), underwriters consider the person's driving record.

Within the broad field of property and casualty, underwriters may specialize even further into commercial (business insurance) or personal insurance. They may also specialize by the type of policy, such as insuring automobiles, boats (marine insurance), or homes (homeowners’ insurance).

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What is the workplace of a Underwriter like?

Underwriters usually work indoors in a comfortable office setting. Some property and casualty underwriters may visit properties to assess them in person. Most underwriters work full time.



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Further Reading

  • What Is a Health Underwriter? www.wisegeek.com

    A health underwriter examines and writes documents for patients in health care.

  • What Does an Underwriter Do? www.ehow.com

    An underwriter looks at an individual's history and uses mathematical models to determine whether the person should be approved for a financial service, such as loans from banks, insurance applications and securities management.

  • Is Insurance Underwriting Right For You? www.investopedia.com

    If you have a background in finance and an eye for detail, you may want to consider insurance underwriting as a career.

  • What Does a Commercial Underwriter Do? www.wisegeek.com

    A commercial underwriter is a professional in an organization who makes decisions about property and policy risks.

  • What Is Casualty Underwriting? www.wisegeek.com

    Casualty underwriting is risk assessment for the insurance industry for the purposes of determining the terms of a casualty insurance policy.

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