Typical Work Activities
Insurance companies protect individuals and organizations from financial loss by assuming billions of dollars in risks each year. Underwriters are needed to identify and calculate the risk of loss from policyholders, establish appropriate premium rates, and write policies that cover these risks. An insurance company may lose business to competitors if the underwriter appraises risks too conservatively, or it may have to pay excessive claims if the underwriting actions are too liberal.
With the aid of computers, Property and Casualty underwriters analyze information in insurance applications to determine if a risk is acceptable and will not result in a loss. Applications are often supplemented with reports from loss-control consultants, medical reports, data vendors, and actuarial studies. Property and Casualty Underwriters then must decide whether to issue the policy and the appropriate premium to charge. In making this determination, Property and Casualty underwriters serve as the main link between the insurance carrier and the insurance agent. On occasion, they accompany sales agents to make presentations to prospective clients.
Technology plays an important role in an underwriter’s job. Underwriters use computer applications called “smart systems” to manage risks more efficiently and accurately. These systems automatically analyze and rate insurance applications, recommend acceptance or denial of the risk, and adjust the premium rate in accordance with the risk. With these systems, underwriters are better equipped to make sound decisions and avoid excessive losses.
The Internet also has affected the work of underwriters. Many insurance carriers’ computer systems are now linked to different databases on the Internet that allow immediate access to information—such as driving records—necessary in determining a potential client’s risk. This reduces the amount of time and paperwork necessary for an underwriter to complete a risk assessment.