Insurance underwriters held about 110,400 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of insurance underwriters were as follows:
|Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers||42%|
|Insurance agencies and brokerages||22|
|Other insurance related activities||7|
|Direct health and medical insurance carriers||4|
|Credit intermediation and related activities||4|
Underwriters work indoors in offices. Although underwriters spend most of their time working alone on applications at a computer, they sometimes must handle customer inquiries.
Some property and casualty underwriters may travel to assess properties in person.
Most underwriters work full time.
Employers prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. However, insurance-related work experience and strong computer skills may be enough for some positions. Certification is generally necessary for advancement to senior underwriter and underwriter manager positions.
Most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Although a specific major is not required, some coursework in business, finance, economics, and mathematics is helpful.
Beginning underwriters usually work as trainees under the supervision of senior underwriters. Trainees work on basic applications and learn the most common risk factors. Some companies offer training programs that include classroom instruction on the basics of underwriting.
As new underwriters gain experience, they work independently and handle more complex applications.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Employers often expect underwriters to become certified through coursework. These courses are important for keeping current with new insurance policies and for adjusting to new technology and changes in state and federal regulations. Certification is often necessary for advancement to senior underwriter and underwriter management positions. Many certification options are available.
For underwriters with at least 2 years of insurance experience, The Institutes offer the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation. For beginning underwriters, The Institutes offer a training program.
The Institutes also offer several other designations in insurance specialties, including the Associate in Commercial Underwriting (AU) and Associate in Personal Insurance (API). To earn these designations, underwriters complete a series of courses and exams that generally takes 1 to 2 years.
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors offers the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation, which consists of a three-part curriculum in basic insurance concepts.
The American College of Financial Services offers the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) certification. This certification consists of five core courses and three electives, and candidates must have 3 years of related work experience.
Insurance underwriters typically have an interest in the Thinking, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Thinking or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as an insurance underwriter, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Insurance underwriters should also possess the following specific qualities:
Analytical skills. Underwriters must be able to evaluate information from a variety of sources and solve complex problems.
Decision-making skills. Underwriters must consider the costs and benefits of various decisions and choose the appropriate one.
Detail oriented. Underwriters must pay attention to detail, because each individual item on an insurance application can affect the coverage decision.
Interpersonal skills. Underwriters need good communication and interpersonal skills because much of their work involves dealing with other people, such as insurance agents.
Math skills. Determining the probability of losses on an insurance policy and calculating appropriate premiums require mathematical ability.
The median annual wage for insurance underwriters was $70,020 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,360, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,320.
In May 2019, the median annual wages for insurance underwriters in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Credit intermediation and related activities||$75,390|
|Other insurance related activities||70,110|
|Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers||69,760|
|Direct health and medical insurance carriers||68,700|
|Insurance agencies and brokerages||68,430|
Most underwriters work full time.
Employment of insurance underwriters is projected to decline 5 percent from 2018 to 2028. Automated underwriting software allows workers to process applications more quickly than before, reducing the need for as many underwriters. As this technology improves and becomes more widely adopted in the insurance industry, more underwriting decisions will likely be made automatically.
However, there still will be a need for underwriters to review and update the criteria that run the automation. In addition, their analytical insight will still be needed in complex or specific insurance fields, such as workers’ compensation, marine insurance, or health insurance.
Job opportunities should be best for those with a background in finance and strong computer and analytical skills.
For more information about property and casualty insurance, visit
Insurance Information Institute
For more information about certifications, visit
The American College of Financial Services