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Become A Life Underwriter

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Working As A Life Underwriter

  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Processing Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $79,196

    Average Salary

What Does A Life Underwriter Do

Insurance underwriters decide whether to provide insurance and under what terms. They evaluate insurance applications and determine coverage amounts and premiums.

Duties

Insurance underwriters typically do the following:

  • Analyze information stated on insurance applications
  • Determine the risk involved in insuring a client
  • Screen applicants on the basis of set criteria
  • Evaluate recommendations from underwriting software
  • Contact field representatives, medical personnel, and others to obtain further information
  • Decide whether to offer insurance
  • Determine appropriate premiums and amounts of coverage

Underwriters are the main link between an insurance company and an insurance agent. Insurance underwriters use computer software programs to determine whether to approve an applicant. They take specific information about a client and enter it into a program. The program then provides recommendations on coverage and premiums. Underwriters evaluate these recommendations and decide whether to approve or reject the application. If a decision is difficult, they may consult additional sources, such as medical documents and credit scores.

Underwriters analyze the risk factors appearing on an application. For instance, if an applicant reports a previous bankruptcy, the underwriter must determine whether that information is relevant to the current policy. The underwriter would consider how far in the past the bankruptcy occurred and how the applicant’s financial situation has changed since the applicant filed for bankruptcy.

Insurance underwriters must achieve a balance between risky and cautious decisions. If underwriters allow too much risk, the insurance company will pay out too many claims. But if they don't approve enough applications, the company will not make enough money from premiums.

Most insurance underwriters specialize in one of three broad fields: life, health, and property and casualty. Although the job duties in each field are similar, the criteria that underwriters use vary. For example, for someone seeking life insurance, underwriters consider age and financial history. For someone applying for car insurance (a form of property and casualty insurance), underwriters consider the person’s driving record.

Within the broad field of property and casualty, underwriters may specialize even further, into commercial (business) insurance or personal insurance. They may also specialize by the type of policy, such as insuring automobiles, boats (marine insurance), or homes (homeowners’ insurance).

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How To Become A Life Underwriter

Employers prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. However, insurance-related work experience and strong computer skills may be enough. Certification is generally necessary for advancement to senior underwriter and underwriter manager positions.

Education

Most firms prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Courses in business, finance, economics, and mathematics are particularly helpful.

Training

Beginning underwriters usually work as trainees under the supervision of senior underwriters. Trainees work on basic applications and learn the most common risk factors. As they gain experience, they become responsible for more complex applications and work independently.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Employers often expect underwriters to become certified through coursework. Courses are important for keeping current with new insurance policies and for adjusting to new technology and changes in state and federal regulations. Certification is often necessary for advancement to senior underwriter and underwriter management positions. Many certification options are available.

For underwriters with at least 3 years of insurance experience, The Institutes offer the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation. For beginning underwriters, The Institutes offer a training program.

The Institutes also offer two special designations: Associate in Commercial Underwriting (AU) and Associate in Personal Insurance (API). To earn either the AU or API designation, underwriters complete a series of courses and exams that generally take 1 to 2 years.

The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors offers an introductory course in basic insurance concepts: the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF). The American College of Financial Services offers the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) certification.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Underwriters must be able to evaluate information from a variety of sources and solve complex problems.

Decisionmaking skills. Underwriters must consider the costs and benefits of various decisions and choose the appropriate one.

Detail oriented. Underwriters must pay attention to detail, because each individual item on an insurance application can affect the coverage decision.

Interpersonal skills. Underwriters need good communication and interpersonal skills because much of their work involves dealing with other people, such as insurance agents.

Math skills. Determining the probability of losses on an insurance policy and calculating appropriate premiums require mathematical ability.

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Life Underwriter Demographics

Gender

Female

56.0%

Male

41.9%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

66.7%

Hispanic or Latino

12.2%

Black or African American

10.6%

Asian

8.1%

Unknown

2.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

30.8%

Portuguese

23.1%

Chinese

7.7%

Vietnamese

7.7%

French

7.7%

Tagalog

7.7%

Mandarin

7.7%

Arabic

7.7%
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Life Underwriter Education

Schools

Temple University

9.3%

Illinois State University

7.0%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

7.0%

University of Phoenix

7.0%

American College

7.0%

University of Southern Maine

4.7%

University of Connecticut

4.7%

College of Lake County

4.7%

University of South Florida

4.7%

Villanova University

4.7%

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

4.7%

Pennsylvania State University

4.7%

Regis University

4.7%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

4.7%

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

4.7%

The Academy

4.7%

University of Louisiana at Monroe

4.7%

Syracuse University

2.3%

University of Florida

2.3%

University of South Dakota

2.3%
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Majors

Business

27.0%

Management

7.0%

Marketing

6.1%

Nursing

6.1%

Psychology

5.2%

Political Science

5.2%

Insurance

5.2%

Elementary Education

4.3%

Computer Information Systems

3.5%

Finance

3.5%

Medical Assisting Services

3.5%

Human Resources Management

3.5%

Project Management

3.5%

Criminal Justice

3.5%

Accounting

3.5%

Economics

2.6%

Apparel And Textiles

1.7%

Counseling Psychology

1.7%

Biology

1.7%

Theology

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.1%

Other

19.1%

Masters

17.1%

Associate

10.5%

Certificate

4.6%

License

1.3%

Diploma

0.7%

Doctorate

0.7%
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Top Skills for A Life Underwriter

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  1. Underwriting Guidelines
  2. Life Insurance Applications
  3. Approval Authority
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Classified individual risk subject to company underwriting guidelines.
  • Review life insurance applications and render decisions on the acceptability of risks within established authority.
  • Risk assessment of formal and informal life insurance cases with 2nd signature approval authority up to $5M.
  • Refer and assist claimant with vocational rehabilitation and legal services for assistance to file social security disability claims.
  • Gathered and analyzed detailed medical records, laboratory results, pharmacy information, creditor information, and background checks.

How Would You Rate Working As a Life Underwriter?

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Top Life Underwriter Employers

Jobs From Top Life Underwriter Employers

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