An insurance underwriter, in short, is an individual that assesses an applicant’s eligibility for insurance. That means they review details about someone looking for insurance in order to determine what type of plan they can be offered.
There are multiple types of underwriters, varying by field and industry. This includes life insurance, health insurance, property insurance, and many more. Every field has different regulations and practices.
What will you need?
Generally, to become an insurance underwriter, you will need good communication skills to work well with people, computer skills to process and analyze applications, and the ability to work with costs and numbers. A bachelor’s degree is likely required, though a background in business, finance, or math could be helpful to your success, too. Certification may be required, though these details will vary by company.
Insurance Underwriter vs. Insurance Agent
While most people who become insurance underwriters work directly with insurance companies, there are similar positions that fit in during other parts of the process. A field underwriter or insurance agent is an individual that seeks out applicants and explains their insurance options to them. This role often requires a skillset more closely related to a sales position.
Specifically within the life insurance industry, to become a life insurance agent you will have to get licensed within the state you are going to do business. A degree is typically not rquired. After that, you may choose to work with an Insurance Marketing Organization (or IMO), which will help you access insurance products to sell.
Some IMOs may assist you in getting licensed and provide additional training. While being a life insurance underwriter usually means you are an independent contractor, some IMOs will ask you to sign contracts that attach you strictly to that organization.
As you can see, insurance underwriters and insurance agents have some similarities but also many differences. If you are looking to become an insurance underwriter, it is worth assessing other related roles. With that said, general insurance experience will always be helpful as you set out to advance a career in any insurance industry.
Steps to Become An Insurance Underwriter
The first step to determining if you would like a career as insurance underwriter is considering if you prefer to weigh costs, assess risks and benefits, and write insurance policies. Career researchers have found that the average salary for an insurance underwriter is $58,345 (as of August 2021).
Secondly, you will want to begin researching open insurance underwriter positions. Entry-level jobs will typically not require any type of certification; however it is important to check with the employer you are applying to.
If certification is required, the third step will be to find a certification program. The American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters and the Insurance Institute of America are the top two organizations that provide training for underwriters, as well as certification.
Another tip to consider would be to find an experienced insurance underwriter and ask them questions about their work. Maybe a family member or friend knows an underwriter, or you could try networking with one on a career site such as LinkedIn. Ask them what steps they took to reach their position. This is a great habit to have when looking to work in any industry!