Expertise in finance and insurance products, plus a knack for technology and analytical thinking, combines in the insurance underwriter’s job. Most of these professionals work for insurance carriers, agencies and brokerages, determining how best to protect individuals and businesses from losses by calculating risk, determining a premium and writing a policy that covers this risk. You can gain the specialized skills and high-level financial knowledge you’ll need to prepare for a career as an insurance underwriter by enrolling in an MBA Accounting and Finance degree program.
According to reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth of insurance underwriter jobs is expected to remain steady nationwide from 2008 through 2018. Demand for skilled underwriters should increase as more insurance carriers emphasize underwriting to generate revenue. In addition, increased demand by the nation’s baby boomers for long-term-care and health insurance products will expand the need for insurance underwriters. Job opportunities should be best for individuals with advanced education, financial expertise, and demonstrated product development and risk assessment skills.
When insurance companies assume risk for individuals and businesses, they must calculate their potential losses and charge appropriate premiums to cover them. Insurance underwriters decide whether insurance will be provided and under what terms. It’s a fine balance between taking a too-conservative approach – and possibly losing business – and paying excessive claims due to a liberal approach.
Most underwriters specialize in one of four areas: life, health, property and casualty, or mortgage insurance. Life and health insurance underwriters may further focus on either individual or group policies. Property and casualty insurance underwriters typically specialize in either commercial or personal policies, and are typically knowledgeable in fire, automobile, marine, or homeowners’ insurance – or if offering package policies, they are well versed in all four types. Commercial insurance underwriters may focus on construction, marine or other specialty coverage. They typically assess a business’s entire operation when approving or denying an application.
Typical duties of an insurance underwriter include using specialized software to calculate risk, analyze and rate insurance applications, recommend approval or denial, and set the premium accordingly. Insurance underwriters set the criteria to screen applicants, and then either approve or refute the final approval decisions. Automated systems software makes the decision-making process faster and more efficient.
Insurance underwriters typically work in comfortable office settings. Some travel may be required, particularly in the commercial insurance field. A 40-hour week is standard.
According to the BLS, the average annual income for insurance underwriters in May 2010 was $65,220. The middle 50% earned between $45,650 and $79,790. Salaries for the lowest 10% were around $36,700, while the highest 10% brought in upwards of $102,540 annually. Those new to the field will typically start out toward the lower end of the scale and may move up in salary with experience, but every job seeker is encouraged to do independent research into local trends and requirements.
Insurance underwriter positions most often require a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, finance or a related field; some employers request insurance-related work experience, which can be obtained through internships or summer employment. The increased complexity in tax laws and regulations affecting the insurance industry may lead employers to show preference to master’s degree holders.
In addition, continuing education is required for advancement. For beginning underwriters, the Insurance Institute of America offers the Associate in Commercial Underwriting (ACU) to those underwriting business insurance policies, and the Associate in Personal Insurance (API) for personal insurance underwriters. The American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters awards the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation to experienced underwriters who pass their exam. Those in the life and health insurance field may earn the Chartered Life Underwriter designation from the American College.
Becoming an insurance underwriter can begin with earning an MBA Accounting and Finance degree. Coursework typically includes managerial accounting, investment management, financial management and managerial economics.
Employers can be confident that graduates of a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Accounting & Finance degree program are able to:
If you are detail-oriented, enjoy analyzing and assessing facts and figures, and possess sound judgment and integrity, then you may be ready to change course and embark on a high-paying insurance underwriter career. A great way to begin your journey is enrolling in an MBA in Finance and Accounting degree program to learn the advanced skills that success in this lucrative field requires.