Insurance Underwriter jobs(Also known as Risk Assessor)
Insurance Underwriting refers to the process of assessing risk and deciding whether an application should be approved or rejected or if any specific terms and conditions should be placed on the policy. The role of an underwriter is primarily related to risk assessment. An underwriter must evaluate whether an application is likely to be profitable in the long term for the company. Most insurance companies will have a set range of criteria which must be considered in the underwriting process. There will normally be a pro-forma set of requirements that must be ticked off but in certain circumstance the underwriter will have to use their discretion to ensure that a policy is not too risky. There will likely be a variety of relevant factors depending upon the type of insurance. For example, if someone was looking to take out health or critical illness insurance the underwriter might request details of any
- ongoing medical conditions
- previous claims
- history of heart disease or other medical conditions within the immediate family
- lifestyle risks e.g. excessive drinking, smoking or dangerous hobbies
SalaryStarting salaries will normally be between £18,000 and £25,000 although the area you work in will affect this. With experience, salaries are likely to increase and it may be possible to move into supervisory or management positions. Salaries for these roles are likely to be around £25,000 to £50,000 depending upon experience, industry and the size of the team. The insurance industry is dominated by large financial companies, insurers and re-insurance businesses in Europe and the UK. Most of these firms will look to take people on as either a graduate or straight from school and will normally offer a comprehensive health and benefits package and pension scheme.
ResponsibilitiesAs an underwriter you are responsible for assessing risk and maintaining profitability. You will be expected to:
- Evaluate application forms and other corresponding evidence
- Gather further information including liaising with other professionals such as doctors or lawyers
- Make quantitative and qualitative judgements on the risks of a particular policy
- Make recommendations as to whether a policy is reasonable and, if not, whether the policy should be accepted with an increased premium or whether certain elements of an application present too high a risk and should therefore be excluded
- Calculate premiums
- Make recommendations on whether the risk should be re-insured
- Visit brokers, doctors and intermediaries to discuss products and assessment criteria
- Negotiate terms with policyholders
- Help to draft policies and advise lawyers of appropriate exclusion clauses
- Keep meticulous records of individual policies and conditions
QualificationsYou will need to have 5 grade A-C GCSEs and 2 A-levels or a recognised HND qualification as a minimum. The majority of larger firms will offer underwriting positions to graduates. There are no specific degree subjects required but degrees in business related subjects such as business studies or economics may be beneficial. There is a wide variety of different courses available for those working in the insurance industry or looking to move into it. The Chartered Insurance Institute ("CII") offers a wide range of generalist courses. These courses take a hierarchical framework as follows (lowest to highest): Award in Insurance - An introductory-level study programme, the Foundation Insurance Test, developing fundamental knowledge on key topics. Certificate in Insurance - This is the ‘core’ level qualification, suitable for those entering the industry and seeking to gain essential basic knowledge of the market, key disciplines and products. Diploma in Insurance - This qualification recognises ‘technical’ development achieved by those with a growing understanding of the industry. Advanced Diploma in Insurance - This is the ‘professional’ qualification awarded to experienced and expert market practitioners. Fellowship in Insurance - This requires the completion of a personalised, structured, advanced professional development programme. The qualifications work on a cumulative credit system with individual modules covering both the fundamental and specialist areas. Other qualifications from different bodies e.g. the LLMIT can be used towards CII qualifications and it is worth researching the market to find out what areas interest you. The CII also has an underwriting faculty specialising in technical information and advice for practising and fledgling underwriters.
- Attention to detail
- Strong decision making capabilities including the ability to say "no"
- Technical knowledge of the insurance industry and specific areas e.g. health or critical illness
- A knowledge of technical terms related to your field
- An analytical mind and the ability to ascertain the truth
- The ability to make prudent business-focussed recommendations
- Good numeracy and literary skills
- A working knowledge of computers and computer programmes such as Excel and Word
- The ability to work to a deadline
- Excellent interpersonal, customer care and communication skills
- For specialist areas you may require very specific skills. Lloyds of London is one of the most significant insurers in the world and offers very specific diversification of risks to policyholders. There is the opportunity to work in specialist fields and if you do so you may require expert knowledge in specific areas such as medicine, economics or politics.