Underwriters are responsible for deciding whether or not to accept applications for insurance cover – this is known as 'risk'. Determining risk is a complex process and the job relies on sensible judgement and meticulous attention to detail. The underwriter must ensure that accurate quotes are produced that are competitive to the customer, yet profitable for the company. Underwriters may work in many areas but the work generally falls into the categories of life assurance, commercial insurance, general insurance and reinsurance.
- examining insurance proposals
- collecting background information and assessments of risk
- analysing statistical data using specialist computer programmes
- writing quotes and negotiating the terms with brokers and clients
- determining premiums
- deciding the wording of policies
- preparing insurance policy terms and conditions
- liaising with insurance brokers and customers.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for insurance underwriters
- Analytical skills
- Good maths and statistics skills
- Attention to detail
- Verbal and written communication skills
- IT skills
- Good judgement
- Negotiation and interpersonal skills
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of insurance underwriters
- Insurance companies
- Reinsurance companies
Vacancies are advertised by recruitment agencies and careers services and in local and national newspapers and specialist publications such as Business Week, Insurance Times and Insurance Post, plus their online equivalents. The majority of insurance companies operate graduate recruitment schemes, which can be a route into underwriting – for these early applications to major employers are advisable.
Qualifications and training required
There are routes into an insurance underwriting career for both university graduates and school leavers. Graduates from any degree discipline can become underwriters, although some employers prefer a qualification in accounting, finance, economics, law, management or business studies. Specialist medical knowledge or a scientific, technical or engineering degree may be necessary for some vacancies, particularly those within life assurance. Relevant experience gained via vacation work and placements can be beneficial.
School leavers can enter the profession by starting in an assistant role within an underwriting team and working their way up. You may also be able to undertake a financial services apprenticeship and enter as a junior underwriter.
Training is normally provided for successful candidates once in post, often leading to professional qualification with the Chartered Insurance Institute. Career progression is possible by promotion into senior underwriting positions or through specialisation or management.