Insurance underwriters are people who oversee the writing and specifics of insurance policies. You will oversee everything from the fine print at the bottom, through to the legal ramifications and penalty charges - it is one of the most important jobs in insurance.
What is an underwriter?
An underwriter assesses the risk of a person or company and decides if they should be accepted for insurance cover. As an underwriter, you will draw up the specifics of the insurance cover the applicant is seeking and will then present the policy to them.
There are four main types of insurance for an underwriter to cover:
- Commercial insurance: Companies.
- General: Household, pets, motor and travel.
- Life insurance and assurance: Illness, injury, death etc.
- Reinsurance: Insurance is transferred to a different insurer.
Underwriters do not just create insurance policies for applicants. Underwriters will also study insurance proposals, gather background information about the potential customer and effectively assess the risk involved. You may also need evaluate reports and medical records - if needed - which an underwriting assistant can help obtain.
An underwriter has many different responsibilities. These responsibilities may change as you move into more senior roles.
The most common responsibilities for an underwriting job is:
- Calculate premiums.
- Gather background information on applicants.
- Help other underwriters with policy wording.
- Keep detailed records.
- Liaise with legal departments when underwriting policies.
- Negotiate terms with policy holders.
- Use specialist programmes to create policies and analyse statistical information and data.
- Visit brokers and prepare quotes for applicants.
As you move into senior roles, you may take on more responsibilities. You may be responsible for managing budgets, training staff or even visiting potential clients or brokers. You may also be asked to prepare quotes and liaise with specialists - perhaps doctors or surveyors - to assess the risk.
The salary of an underwriter depends on three main points. The company you work for, the location of that company and what type of insurance you specialise in. Companies in London tend to have higher salaries than those outside.
The starting salary for an underwriter is usually around £21,000. After this, your underwriter salary can become more and more competitive. Once you have enough experience, you can start to look at potential salaries of around £33,000.
Once you move into senior roles, your salary can rise even higher. Senior underwriters have been known to earn as much as £37,000. A senior underwriter salary has been known to range between £42,000 and £57,000.
A degree is not a requirement for underwriter jobs, but it is recommended that you have one. Though not an official requirement, it is still something that can stand you in good stead with employers and can increase your earning potential, especially at entry-level.
The best subjects to study for an undergraduate degree are:
- Accounting degrees
- Business degrees
- Economics degrees
- English language degrees
- Finance degrees
- Law degrees
- Management degrees
- Mathematics degrees
Those who are applying without an undergraduate or postgraduate degree will need to look at specific industry qualifications. Organisations such as the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) have several insurance qualifications you can look into.
Training and development
You will largely be responsible for your own training and development. Most companies will likely have a selection of in-house training programmes available for you to consider, but you will most likely need to source your own as well.
As this is a regulated industry, you will be required to complete a continuing professional development (CPD). Registration with organisations such as the CII or the Association of British Insurers is recommended as they can offer you training courses, lectures and CPD-support.
There are a number of skills needed to become an underwriter. These skills are essential to ensuring that the policies you underwrite are accurate and correct, but also for your own abilities to manage the role.
The skills needed for an underwriter job are:
- Customer service skills.
- Excellent IT skills.
- Excellent customer service skills.
- Good mathematical and statistical skills.
- Problem-solving skills.
- Strong analytical skills.
- Strong mathematical skills.
- Strong negotiation skills.
- Strong written and oral communication skills.
- The ability to work alone and in teams.
- The ability to work to deadlines.
These skills can be further honed through continued training and development.
Work experience is not essential for this role, though it is well thought of by employers. Many companies offer summer internships for potential underwriters. These internships won’t allow you to sit on specific policy writing, as they are confidential, but will involve admin tasks and shadowing underwriters in other aspects of their role.
Some companies also offer specific work experience and shadow opportunities. However, you will need to approach these companies directly, rather than through any professional organisations.
Generally, you will start off as a trainee underwriter or assistant underwriter. At this stage, you will likely be sitting several industry qualifications and gaining experience in the role. Once you are qualified, you can work your way up to more senior roles, like a lead or team manager. With experience, you will most likely manage a team of junior underwriters and train new or less experienced employees.
After several years of working as an underwriter, you may decide to explore other career opportunities. You may find you want to work in a specialised field - underwriters can also move into other areas of insurance, including loss adjusting, risk management, broking or claims. Or you may choose to take the general management route instead. It’s also possible for underwriters in insurance to transfer to sales if they have particularly good communication and relationship skills.
-  Entry level underwriter salary in United Kingdom — Indeed.com Retrieved 22 December 2022.
-  Average Underwriter salary in the UK — Reed.co.uk Retrieved 22 December 2022.
-  Underwriter Salaries in United Kingdom — Glassdoor.co.uk Retrieved 22 December 2022.
-  What is the average salary for Underwriter jobs in City of London? — CWJobs.co.uk Retrieved 22 December 2022.