Property and Casualty Underwriter
Chartered property and casualty underwriters decide whether to provide property and casualty insurance and under what terms it should be offered. They evaluate insurance applications and determine coverage amounts and premiums. These underwriters may spend many hours working at a desk, but might also visit properties to assess them in person. Most are employed by insurance companies, and these professionals work full-time.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree preferred|
|Degree Field||No specific field of study required|
|Certification||Voluntary professional certification is available and may be preferred by employers|
|Experience||None required to work as an insurance underwriter; at least two years of related experience required for the CPCU credential|
|Key Skills||Decision making, interpersonal, and analytical skills; critical-thinking, complex problem-solving, writing, and time-management skills; ability to use document management, financial analysis, and spreadsheet software programs|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$65,040 (for insurance underwriters)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015), American Institutes for Chartered and Casualty Underwriters, O*Net Online
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Step 1: Complete an Undergraduate Degree Program
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that many insurance underwriters have bachelor's degrees but does not identify a field of study that is required or commonly leads to a career in the field. Instead, it is recommended that aspiring insurance underwriters complete a bachelor's degree program that includes course topics such as finance, accounting, and economics.
Bachelor's degree-seeking students can complete programs in risk management and insurance. These programs are often offered through a university's business department and require four years of study. Classes cover topics like business statistics, value analysis, managed care insurance, risk management theory, and health insurance operations.
To really shine in your career, complete a field experience. Some bachelor's degree programs in risk management and insurance allow students to complete field experiences or internships during their studies. These internships allow students to see the specific job tasks they will perform when working as an insurance underwriter and to network with other underwriting professionals. These two benefits may make it easier to find a job and begin working in the field after graduation.
Additionally, consider completing exams while studying. Depending on the program, students may be able to complete one to two of the eight required tests to earn the CPCU credential while completing their degree program. Not only will this shorten the length of time it takes after graduation to complete all credential requirements, but it may impress employers and lead to more job opportunities.
Step 2: Begin Working as an Underwriter
The BLS states that no experience is needed to begin working as a medical underwriter, and that most underwriters receive some form of on-the-job training. This makes recent graduates eligible to begin working as an underwriter immediately after completing their program. Insurance underwriters may review documents to determine if an insurance company should cover an individual or a piece of real estate, determine policy benefits and limits, and establish premium amounts.
Step 3: Earn the CPCU Credential
Earning the CPCU credential requires completing a total of eight classes, each of which relates to a specific test, agreeing to abide by the AICCUs code of ethics, and having at least two years of experience (24 months of experience with at least 17.5 hours per week of insurance-related work activities). There are five required classes and exams in areas that include financial services institutions, risk management, insurance operations, statutory accounting, and the legal environment of insurance. The remaining three classes and exams focus on either commercial or personal insurance, based on the credential-seeker's choice.
The AICCU states that some CPCU candidates finish the credentialing program within two years. Because of the experience requirements, this appears to be the minimum length of time it could take to earn the credential. The AICCU states that many candidates take longer to earn the credential.
Look into CPCU scholarship opportunities. The AICCU offers scholarship opportunities directly to CPCU candidates. These scholarships can eliminate or drastically reduce the cost of earning the certification.
Step 4: Complete Continuing Education
CPCU-credentialed underwriters must complete continuing education. Each state establishes the rules regarding the amount and period of time of this continuing education. Continuing education requirements can include completing courses in ethics, health underwriting, or legislative updates. Credits can be earned through the AICCU.
You can also join a CPCU society. CPCU societies are located throughout the nation. These societies provide continuing education and networking opportunities to members. Joining one of these institutions could make it easier to complete continuing education requirements and learn about new or higher-level job opportunities.
To recap, with a postsecondary education, on-the-job training, and a CPCU credential, a chartered property and casualty underwriter can earn about $65,000 a year to decide whether to provide property and casualty insurance to clients and under what terms it should be offered.