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What do underwriters do?

Underwriters accept or reject risks on behalf of the insurance company. Brokers and agents submit applications for insurance on behalf of individuals or businesses and an underwriter reviews the applications and decides whether to offer insurance to the applicants (that is, whether to accept or reject the risk). Underwriters also:
  • Determine what coverage is available, the premium to be paid and other terms required in accepting the risk.
  • Counsel clients on risk management solutions, negotiates terms and contracts, and develops relationships with key clients (ie brokers).
  • Review existing client portfolios and determine whether the insurance company should continue to provide insurance coverage for the risk.
  • Remain aware of current industry trends through development of a good working relationship with brokers and other sources of industry news and developments.

Is this career for me?

Do the following statements accurately describe you?

  • You have aptitude in math and are comfortable using a variety of computer applications
  • You have excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • You have strong analytical and judgment skills and pay attention to detail
  • You are a creative thinker, with a natural curiosity
  • You have strong organizational and time management skills
  • You have (or had) a part-time job that required communication, organization and time-management skills such as a web programmer
If you answered yes to these statements, then a career as an underwriter might be the perfect fit!

How do I get there?

A combination of the following qualifications would be helpful in gaining employment as an underwriter in the property and casualty insurance industry.

What should I take in high school?

A high school course plan should include post-secondary pre-requisites in grade 12 English, math and business courses. Other suggested courses of study are algebra, law, computer sciences and social sciences.

At a minimum, some organizations will consider a high school diploma and 1-2 years of relevant work experience (ie administrative assistant, data entry, etc) for an entry level position with the condition that the employee will complete a CIP or relevant industry designation. Most, if not all, insurance organizations support their staff's continuing and professional education by providing financial support and time off for studying for/writing exams.

What should I take in College/University?

For a greater advantage, and the highest placement value, successful completion of a business of insurance program is strongly recommended. Applicants with a background or degree in actuarial sciences would also be strongly considered. Learn more.

A college diploma or university degree in business administration, economics, or commerce is recommended for this role.

What Licensing would be required?

Some organizations may require an applicant to possess a life, broker or agent license. Learn more.


Underwriter Career Profile Postcard

What does the future hold?

Earning potential for this role depends on education, experience, and geographic region. Much weight is given to those with specialized experience and achievement in associate and many companies offer bonuses linked to performance goals and achievement of industry recognized designations, such as the CIP and CRM designations.

Experienced underwriters may find opportunities in brokering, claims, risk management, or actuarial sciences. Underwriters could choose to move into reinsurance to handle complex cases and high levels of risk. They might also progress into specialized fields, such as marine or aviation insurance. If you speak one or more languages, there are also possibilities to work globally.

There is already a growing demand for underwriters due to population growth and retirement. In the industry, underwriters would find employment at insurance companies, reinsurance companies, and in government with opportunities to specialize in areas such as aviation, marine and municipality