Who Is An Insurance Underwriter?

Do you want someone to embark on an evaluation and analysis of the risks which pertain to insuring people and their assets? Follow this article to comprehend an insurance underwriter.

In today’s age and time with a multitude of national and international uncertainties looming, the significance of insurance has increased manifold. Insurance has become a highly critical path towards living a safe and secure life without any concerns for one’s well-being as well as that of their loved ones. Just like any other serious process, insurance requires someone to evaluate and assess its share of risks posed to the person or assets getting insured. But how can you get your insurance process evaluated and assessed? Is it possible to do so?

It is possible! An insurance underwriter is your answer.

But who is it, and how does such a person work? This article has answers to all of your questions about an insurance underwriter’s work process, types of underwriting they do, their responsibilities, qualifications, skills, employers, and their career prospects in other areas of insurance. To know all of this key information belonging to the world of insurance, stay here and read this article.

Let’s start an expansion of knowledge on the insurance world.

Who is an insurance underwriter?

Insurance underwriters are professional individuals involved primarily in the evaluation and analysis of the risks which are there when insuring people and assets. They proceed through an establishment of pricing made majorly for accepted insurable risks. The very term “underwriting” implies reception of remuneration because there exists a willingness towards paying a potential risk.

Underwriters resort to the usage of specialized software alongside actuarial data to ascertain the possibility and extent of a peril. Insurance underwriters decree whether insurance cover applications should be accepted or not and, if they are to be accepted, what the terms and conditions of that kind of acceptance are.

The prospect of a claim being made remains the principal yardstick followed by the insurance underwriters while coming up with an assessment of risks related to the insurance of a company or an individual.

How do insurance underwriters work?

Underwriters work in tandem with experts of actuarial sciences as well as the managers of risk and claim who are also working at times in cahoots with the brokers since every part is interconnected in a bigger picture of putting forth the best insurance plan. With all these actors involved, a balance comes into play here between attraction as well as retention of individuals interested in a certain kind of insurance plan.

Such balance gets visibility through insurance premiums competitive in nature and an ability steered towards an offset of potential losses out of claims. A greater degree of comfort is a must while executing decrees about something perilous in nature and that too while trying to cope with certain deadlines.

Coverage of an insurance client

A coverage an insurance client receives alongside the payment they make for such coverage while they ponder over the acceptance of risks and their consequent insurance falls under the decision-making ambit of an insurance underwriter.

It is a line of work very particular about discovering the premium that has to be charged while insuring the risk and at the same time also concerned with how to measure the exposure of such risk in the first place.

For underwriters working in the insurance sector, the focal point of responsibility remains their safeguard of the book of business belonging to the given company. They safeguard this book from hazardous risks capable of generating a loss while simultaneously issuing insurance policies at a premium corresponding to the exposure emanating from the aforementioned risk.

Safeguard mechanism and guidelines

An insurer utilizing the name, platform, and impact of an established and registered company always abides by its peculiar lowdown of guidelines pivotal in the process of underwriting. Such lowdown eases the work of an insurance underwriter as now whatever task is being carried out remains in line with the dictum outlining the company’s desire towards accepting a certain risk.

The type of coverage will be given immense importance while evaluating the risk carried by an insurance applicant as manifested in how automobile industry-related coverage takes the account of the driving record an individual has.

Though while underwriting insurance for health insurance, it is the medical form of underwriting that comes into the picture with a meticulous examination of the health status an insurance applicant has and such health status is also cognizant of an individual’s occupation and age.

Classification of risks

Insurance companies utilize an array of factors in the classification of risks as these companies deem them objective in a general scheme of things. Such company-based classification is adequate to be in perfect sync with applicable law while also shielding the viability of the insurance package in a manner where it has a greater degree of durability too. Companies resort to classification for a practical administrative reason too.

The underwriters tend to brush aside the risk, by instead ensuring the provision of a quotation with loaded premiums (comprises the amount required for profit generation alongside coverage of expenses) or of a quotation which specifies different exclusions and these exclusions limit the conditions requiring payment of a claim.


Insurers also employ the operation of automated underwriting systems purely for encoding of rules set out there but such operation is reliant on the different nature of different kinds of products of insurance. The single most important benefit of automation has been a reduction in the proportion of manual work carried out while carrying out the processing of quotations and that of issuance of a policy.

Auto and homeowner insurance sectors have greatly benefited as they fall under the category of “personal lines of business”.

Diversity of the insurance sector

The insurance sector is very diverse therefore there are also insurers working in it who depend on the underwriting capabilities of agents. By doing so, an insurance company carries out its operation devoid of any need for the establishment of any physical presence but still working in a market where it remains close to its clients.

Moral hazard and correlated losses

Moral hazard and Correlated losses remain two principal categories of exclusion in the world of insurance underwriting. When moral hazard is included, there come the insured ramifications of the actions of a customer driving him/her towards taking actions that cost more.

Moral hazard

An instance of the existence of moral hazard can be seen in how the exclusion of bedbugs from the insurance of homeowners occurs primarily for evasion of payment of repercussions attached with getting a mattress that had been used previously too.

Events an individual has no control over and are out of their reach but they do occur on their own and have a metaphorical mind of their own are usually the ones that get insured. The insured event list comprises of the coverage in life insurance of unfortunate occurrence of death in a car accident but the list is not inclusive towards equally sad and grim incidents such as an act of suicide leading to death.

Correlated losses

Correlated losses impact a great number of insurance policy users at one time and such lethal occurrences can lead an insurer towards potential bankruptcy in no time. For the very same reason, natural calamities as big and wild as floods and earthquakes don’t receive coverage under the homeowner insurance policy as these calamities are massive in their drastic impact affecting the lives of an entire population ( implying many people at the same time) therefore the former only covers damage or loss as individual as house fire or fall of trees but nothing beyond that.

The external observers of the insurance sector see underwriting as some kind of “continuous math problem” where expected losses are being fuelled while dividing the customers into segments based on the behavior that they exhibit but not just confining the operation to this domain but expanding towards an assessment of the risk percentage that has to go towards the reinsurers.

A risk at hand has to be given a different price in an obvious manner. If we compare how the prices were in 2011 and how they are now in 2021 we understand the rationale behind the difference in prices.

One should not increase the value and worth the analytics entail here beyond their original contribution to the entire process since it is clear that charges will be greater when demand is greater than supply alongside excessive capacity being there leads one towards a meticulous picking of bad risks involving simultaneous close pre-qualification of submissions. The executives of the sector truly realize the hard nature of these markets on a level that surpasses decades and several lines.

Global economy and its impact on the insurance sector

The unusual augmentation of rates and their likelihood towards a further rise is also a point of concern. Chances are traditional ways of performing underwriting insurance tasks may experience innovation and any changes experienced will consequently alter the face of the sector.

Feeble interest rates decreasing investment returns for many years claims rates experiencing an upward trend, rise in critical losses through the existence of challenges such as climate change, growing competition between various industry startups, social inflation with the addition of socio-economic insecurities stemming from pandemic are all the reasons why economic reports predict the tightening of capacity but for many, it is not the true cause.

As a result of such global upheavals, underwriters face a frightening and difficult situation to deal with especially when prices witness a softening process. Should we remain adamant about writing insurance policies or retreat from this strongly-held position?

Cross-accumulation of risks

In an environment where interest rates are painfully low, many are increasing their investment returns through a great increase in profitability solely through an augmented dependence on equities as well as private markets. But still there remain quite a small number of insurance companies who are connecting their investment holdings to their respective underwriting decisions.

If one underwrites a certain risk while also putting investment in different securities of a company then they run the probability of unintentionally accelerating the exposure.

More risk than one anticipates awaits one if there exists a credit event posing a menace to the very customer who remains a top priority throughout the process. A carefully crafted system of information presents a better picture of the risk that has been cross-accumulated.

A good majority of insurance companies do not cease to look for broad trends, maximization of profits, and minimization of losses as it has to be taken into account that there is no one cycle of underwriting dynamics that have to be discerned.

Sustainability and pricing strategy

Competitive pricing is a good strategy to have in place since many who buy insurance packages are cost-driven but one has to remain cognizant of the fact that there remain countless ways in which a product can be priced while gauging not so severe reaction of bigwigs of the market since the leadership of market will undergo an adequate and apt realization of the force behind a drive towards loss behavior on a level that is granular in its very nature.

Insurance companies who employ greater degrees of sustainability with regards to their underwriting mechanism are frequently winning over their industry rivals. The race in the industry towards who provides the best to its customers can only be accomplished by those who are capable of delivering the best and sustaining their best delivery rate through an adequate amount and measure of efficiency without any disregard to any given set of underwriting guidelines one incorporates.

Tougher market conditions

With the market experiencing a rise in tougher conditions, the leadership navigates its path forward by successful utilization of controls smart in impact and governance effective in result. The process incorporates successful management of the overall risk portfolio against metrics which are clearly defined through the usage of product line working in tandem with the successful utilization of business unit controls for the major reason of out-selection as well as out-pricing of risk.

How to streamline information supply chain

Therefore one has to streamline their information supply chain in a manner where systems inform when to decide on pivoting and when not to acquire the first-mover advantage. A delayed response is not desirable here as the delay is seen through a discovery of problems in a review quarterly in its type. For a long period, human expertise is the supreme notion to which underwriting bows down and this has always been the case for risks more complex in their kind.

Smarter underwriting strategies to be used or not

Now the top insurers are looking into ways they can turn their underwriting strategies into something smarter as well as swift than ever before and such sudden realization stems from both the rise of claims as well as the rise of competition.

Previously, the state and health of the economy of industry didn’t make it possible for industry leaders to look towards a more efficient functioning of their already in practice underwriting arrangement.

Many today argue that now it is the computer with its better predictions on loss to which the underwriting framework is primarily connected, not the human expertise anymore.

Greater usage of AI tools

Arguments in favor of greater usage of  AI tools trained to find missing insights are also commonplace now with the advent and rise first of the web era and now of a greatly digitalized era for the world economy.

A focus on underwriting fundamentals

Though the cyclical nature of pricing and the burdens its bothersome onset entails can be evaded through a better understanding of factors driving loss and a better vision behind the business strategy. This is reflective of the fact that the key to the underwriting-based success of an insurance policy remains rooted in fundamentals rather than in some new technological innovation.

The fundamentals comprise of but are not only confined to a timely feedback mechanism on losses incurred, developments occurring in real-time, and risks as abstruse as the above-mentioned cross-accumulations.

With these fundamentals in place, an insurer is bound to gravitate towards wise decision-making on risks and would most probably deviate immediately from any faulty judgment acting as an impediment on the way to the correction of course and any mistakes made before.

Modernization of underwriting and its importance

With every passing year, more and more insurers are inclining towards utilization of automation tools for the coherent and correct management of underwriting decisions, as now insurance underwriters will be equipped with tools giving them a foray into how they can price a business in more dynamic ways.

These changes can simply be deemed incongruous but not radical as radical carries connotations not suitable in the context of the historical experiences of insurance underwriting arrangements in an ever-evolving insurance sector of at times fragile world economy.

Though for many in the industry, without any single iota of doubt, the modernization process for underwriting is an enabling resource geared towards the swift manner of decision formulation and execution within each cycle of underwriting.

But to reduce the whole process of underwriting solely to the edifice of modernization would be doing injustice to the entire process and like recklessly razing a skyscraper to ground zero.

Guide for underwriters

Underwriters review an insurance application through a wide range of mediums with the principal inclusion of a manual which is a thorough guide utilized for efficient and effective delivery of work.

The guide contains assessment guidelines for factors of risk as individual and wide-ranging as medical history, alcohol use, and driving record.

An example of such risks is highlighted in the very fact that someone who drinks heavily is more tended towards risk in their application as compared to someone who does not drink at all.

One requires with them a greater “evidence of insurability” if they are older and they are applying for more coverage. One carries a lower degree of risk if they can come up with “evidence of insurability” by answering certain questions alongside definitely undergoing different medical tests.

Common tools of underwriting

Though what is necessary and what is required may vary from situation to situation but there are a few common tools every underwriter likes to utilize and those tools are as follows:

An attending physician statement: A statement that summarizes a person’s medical history prepared by your doctor. The report gets requested by a third party for making sure of its objectivity as well as completeness.

A paramedical exam: Collection of information by a third-party paramedical examiner on customer’s medical history alongside checks being made on customer’s height and weight, as well as their blood pressure and pulse.

Vitals: A measure of your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse, taken by An approved paramedical firm’s measure of a customer’s ( applying for an insurance plan) pulse, blood pressure, height, and weight.

A tele-interview: An over-the-phone collection of information about customers’ medical history as well as their lifestyle, this interview can also at times act as a substitute for the paramedical exam as well as the vitals.                                                                                                                                                          A blood test/profile: Submission of blood profile of customer alongside their urinalysis which is a detailed evaluation of their urine components for a better understanding of their health through their bodily fluids.

A mature focus interview (MAFI): Required by Insurance companies from those who are either 71 years old or even older than that since a person’s vulnerability ( which is risk in terms of insurance sector language) to health issues increases with an increase in their age.

The MAFI puts forth a complete utilization of examination of daily living habits of customers while also testing their mobility as well as their cognitive skill set.

Health condition: a determinant towards the need for underwriting

This was not an exhaustive list of what an underwriter may require while assessing your insurance application as more documents may be required too.

These documents can include a financial inspection or a motor vehicle report too.

There are also insurance policies devoid of a need for underwriting, these are known as “guaranteed issue” policies.

They can be beneficial for customers who are in a poor state of health.

Those who are fortunate enough to be in a good health condition should stick to a policy that involves underwriting.

This investment of time can lead one towards potentially big savings.

What are the responsibilities of an insurance underwriter?

Insurance underwriters undertake a conscientious study of insurance proposals before collecting and evaluating background information such as medical records from specialists whenever and wherever required while understanding the extent of risk that can be there in a customer’s profile.

Use of statistical information and visits to brokers and potential customers

They also perform an analysis of statistical information through the programs available to them as they have to settle down only with premium after calculation of potential risk.

Their work also comprises visits to brokers and potential customers for the preparation of quotes. Underwriters are supposed to specify certain conditions on certain policies such as how a security alarm has to be installed by a property owner.

What are the qualifications of an insurance underwriter?

There is no specific degree that is required to work as an insurance underwriter but a graduate degree in the disciplines of business, economics, mathematics, management, finance or law will always prove to be a great asset for the job applicant and will never go in vain especially in this particular part of the insurance sector.

One can enter this job and work in a relevant space even without a graduate degree but that is only achievable in the role of an assistant underwriter, or if a person is also up for working as a junior underwriter in an underwriting team.

The progress at times occurs gradually and at times at a rapid pace towards the role of underwriter but still adequate experience and qualifications remain a vital force here to be reckoned with.


Insurance underwriters play a very crucial role in very crucial insurance-related judgments since they are the ones assessing the impact a potential risk can incur.

Their importance in the insurance sector as well as in the national economy is cardinal since if there is no risk assessment of an insurance application then greater the chances are there will be losses incurred for the parties involved in the process.

One does not need a specific degree to excel as an underwriter but that does not reduce the significance this role entails.

John Otero

John Otero

John Otero is an industry practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry. He has held various senior management roles both in the insurance companies and insurance brokers during this span of time. He began his insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. He got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how he fell in love with the industry. He saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. John has diverse experience in corporate & consumer insurance services, across a range of vocations. His specialties include Major Corporate risk management and insurance programs, and Financial Lines He has been instrumental in making his firm as one of the leading organizations in the country in generating sustainable rapid growth of the company while maintaining service excellence to clients.

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