Insurance underwriters review potential risk in order to decide whether or not their company should provide insurance to an applicant and, if so, what the appropriate premium should be. Successful professionals in the field have great interpersonal skills and are able to handle confidential information. Underwriting education is available at the bachelor's degree level, with focuses in insurance and risk management as well as finance. Strong math and computer skills are needed for these programs, since underwriters use various software programs and reports to help determine the appropriate risk category. These programs usually require an internship.
Bachelor of Science in Insurance and Risk Management
Baccalaureate degrees in insurance and risk management incorporate a multidisciplinary set of courses, with a heavy emphasis on finance, business, and management. Specific requirements include general education courses, business courses, professional courses and electives. A bachelor's program offers a variety of courses, which may include:
- General principles
- Employee benefits
- Business operations
- Life and health insurance
- Accounting and finance
- Economics marketing and management
Bachelor of Science in Finance
A bachelor's degree in the field of finance focuses primarily on the management of money and the application of such management in a business setting. These programs require completion of general education and business-specific courses. General business management courses are also part of the curriculum. Business-specific classes may include:
- Business finance
- Financial planning
- Financial analysis and investments
Entry-level underwriters normally start at the assistant or trainee level and work with a more seasoned professional. Most companies provide comprehensive internal training programs that vary in length. Beginner underwriters progress from simple applications to more complex cases as time goes on. Generally, several years of experience is required to become an independent underwriter.
Insurance companies frequently offer continuing education in the form of workshops and seminars in order to ensure their underwriters are up-to-date on computer software, legal issues and corporate policy, since regular changes in state and federal laws will impact insurance clients. Numerous professional societies also sponsor annual conferences and regular seminars. Such seminars may focus upon a specific specialty area; for example, there are societies for health underwriters and property underwriters.
In addition to the specialty societies, more general associations exist, such as the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Beginning underwriters may enroll in a training program offered by the Insurance Institute of America; several designations for more experienced professionals are also available through the organization. The Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation is sponsored by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. It requires the completion of eight examinations, adherence to a code of ethics and a minimum of three years of employment experience. Other designations are also available for professionals to pursue, depending upon experience and area of interest.
Depending on the area in which students aspire to work as underwriters, they can seek bachelor's degree programs focusing on insurance/risk management or finance. Both new and experienced underwriters can also look into workshops and seminars to help them train, as well as insurance associations.