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Insurance Underwriter

Insurance underwriters evaluate the risks involved in applications for insurance and, on behalf of the insurance company, decide whether or not to accept those risks. They may work for life insurance companies or general insurance companies.

  • Avg. Salary $56,797.00
  • Avg. Wage $30.59
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
Also Known As

Personal Lines Underwriter, Property Insurance Underwriter, Risk Manager, Technical Underwriting Assistant, Underwriter, Underwriter Trainee

NOC & Interest Codes
The Insurance Underwriter is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Insurance Underwriters
NOC code: 1234
METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to review individual and group applications for automobile, fire, health, liability, life, property, marine, aircraft and other insurance, to ensure compliance with government regulations, andto adjust premiums, coverage or risk itself for acceptance of new and renewal applications

SOCIAL

Interest in speaking with clients, insurance agents, consultants and other company personnel to provide underwriting advice and answer inquiries

directive

Interest in approving the sale of insurance policies

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

When insurance agents and brokers sell insurance policies to individuals and organizations, they present applications for insurance to insurance company underwriters. When applications are received, underwriters:

  • review applications to determine whether the requested coverage fits the risk exposure
  • check details to ensure that the insurance company is receiving a premium corresponding to the risk it is taking and guard against fraudulent requests for coverage
  • discuss rates, risks, regulations and coverages with agents and brokers.

Underwriters work within corporate policies, principles and rules for the acceptance of normal risks. If they decide that a risk is not acceptable, they may:

  • adjust the premium or the coverage to make the risk acceptable
  • propose modifications to the coverage or plan deductible
  • spread the risk via subscription policies with other companies or a reinsurance company
  • decline the application for coverage.

In addition to underwriting new applications, underwriters are responsible for analyzing changes requested during the term of the policy and reviewing the risk for renewal. Depending on the company and product line, they also may check policies issued by others to ensure that guidelines are followed, coverage fits risks and rates are correct.

Insurance underwriters spend much of their time on the phone with, writing letters to and/or exchanging e-mails with insurance agents and brokers, people in other insurance company departments (e.g. claims and legal departments) and others.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Insurance underwriters usually work in an office setting but may travel within a specified territory. Because agents often press for quick answers, an underwriter's job can be stressful. Most companies use computers extensively to speed up decision making and reduce paper flow.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Insurance underwriters must be:

  • analytical
  • organized
  • detail-oriented
  • good with numbers
  • inquisitive
  • objective and able to make sound decisions
  • able to negotiate with brokers.

They should enjoy co-ordinating information and taking a methodical approach to their work, working with people and making decisions.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Most insurance companies prefer to hire underwriting trainees who have some post-secondary education. Underwriters usually take two to five years to be become fully qualified by taking related courses and gradually taking on more responsibility. They must be able to analyze reports from other departments (for example, claims, accounting) and keep up to date with current affairs and changes that affect their work.

Most general insurance companies encourage their underwriters to take a program of study offered by the Insurance Institute of Canada. The program leads to the designation Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP). Courses are offered in class, virtually and through distance education, and can be taken by correspondence, through the Insurance Institute of Canada at their location or at designated post-secondary institutions. Information on the requirements of to earn a Fellowship CIP designation can be found at the Insurance Institute of Canada website.

Education and certification programs for life insurance underwriters are offered by the Life Office Management Association (LOMA) and ADVOCIS The Financial Advisors Association of Canada.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Before enrolling in an education program, prospective underwriters should discuss their training options with potential employers.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Underwriters in the field of general insurance usually are employed by local insurance companies, often in larger cities. Life insurance underwriters usually are employed in company head offices.

With experience, underwriters advance to assessing more complex risks such as commercial property risks or auto fleets, and quoting premiums on risks (determining prices and conditions to offer for proposed policies).

After qualifying for the CIP designation, a general insurance underwriter may move into more advanced technical areas of underwriting, management or other company departments (for example, marketing). Some underwriters become independent insurance agents or enter the field of reinsurance or brokering. All insurance agents and independent adjusters must be licensed (for more information, see the Insurance Adjuster and Insurance Agent/Broker occupational profiles).

In Alberta, 98% of people employed as insurance underwriters work in the Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Leasing (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Leasing industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,000 Albertans are employed in the Insurance underwriters occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.3% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 39 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Insurance underwriters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 1313: Insurance underwriters. 

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Insurance underwriters occupational group earned on average from $26.11 to $36.41 an hour. The overall average wage was $30.59 an hour. For more information, see the Insurance underwriters wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Financial Management
    • Information Processing
    • Management and Marketing
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

ADVOCIS The Financial Advisors Association of Canada website: www.advocis.ca

Alberta Insurance Council website: www.abcouncil.ab.ca

Canadian Securities Institute website: www.csi.ca

Insurance Institute of Canada website: www.insuranceinstitute.ca

Career Connections website: http://www.career-connections.info/

Life Office Management Association website: www.loma.org

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Nov 26, 2012. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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