What Is a Commercial Underwriter?

Insurance companies have to be careful when insuring new applicants, especially commercial applicants. This is how you, the commercial underwriter, will help. It becomes your job to investigate commercial applicants to determine their risk level and to present a case for or against insuring them. Continue reading to learn more about what you will do as a commercial underwriter and how to enter this career. Schools offering Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

As a commercial underwriter, you'll work for an insurance company, investigating commercial applicants who want to be insured by your employer. Your company may offer life, health, property, casualty, or other types of insurance. You'll determine whether the applicant is too high of risk or if they will prove to be too costly to ensure.

You'll have to do research into the applicant, which may include studying past insurance coverage and claims, finances, management, assets, and debts. It's important that you make your recommendation carefully; otherwise, your employer could lose a potentially good customer or take a bad risk and lose money.

Important Facts About Commercial Underwriters

Similar Occupations Loan officer, budget analyst, actuary, cost estimator, the appraiser
Median Pay (2018) $69,380 (for insurance underwriters)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) -5% decline (for insurance underwriters)
Key Skills Detail oriented, interpersonal, decision-making, and analytical skills

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Training

There are no industry-standard education requirements for commercial underwriters, though many insurance companies, especially larger ones, prefer a bachelor's degree in a business or finance-related area or experience in the insurance field. It's common for companies to teach underwriters on the job, so you may start as a trainee and move into a full underwriter position once you complete training. You'll learn the appropriate computer software programs for the job, as well as various online databases that you'll use to gain information on commercial applicants.

Independent study programs are also available, such as that leading to the Associate in Commercial Underwriting designation (AU), offered by the Insurance Institute of America. This training is for beginners and consists of a program of courses and examinations that generally takes one to two years to complete.

Continuing Education

You may be encouraged by your employer to participate in continuing education courses that allow you to keep your skills fresh and enhance your knowledge of the industry. You can take college professional development courses in insurance or a related area.

Due to the constant updates in computer software in this field, much of your continuing education will involve learning new software or updating your current knowledge of software programs. In addition, this field is affected by tax laws and government regulations, so you'll also have to take coursework to stay abreast of any changes in this area.

Certification

Certification can allow you to prove your skills and knowledge in the field of insurance underwriting. Besides the AU designation, another possible certification is the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation offered by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. To earn this certification, you must have a minimum of three years of experience in the insurance field, obey the ethics code of the certifying agency and pass eight examinations (www.aicpcu.org).

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