What is an Insurance Underwriter?

Insurance Underwriter Definition

A professional who examines insurance policy applications to decide whether the applicant presents an acceptable risk that the insurance company should cover and issue a policy for. Insurance underwriters also help establish premiums and coverage given the applicant’s risk. Insurance underwriters analyze group and individual applications for all types of personal insurance and damage insurance.

Underwriters also take steps to ensure that all policy requests are legitimate and not fraudulent. Finally, each year, when an existing policy comes up for renewal, insurance underwriters research whether any conditions have changed (e.g., a homeowner filing a claim) that might warrant adjusting the premium or denying renewed coverage.


Kylie is an underwriter for a property insurance company. When a homeowner submits an application, she looks at how much coverage they are requesting (that is, the structure’s value) compared to how much risk her company will expose itself to by covering that property for the requested amount. She adjusts the premium higher for properties that present greater risk and lower for those that present less risk. In some cases, she must require a high premium and high deductible for a high-risk property, or deny coverage altogether because the property presents too great of a risk.

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First Foundation Tips

The right educational background, such as a diploma with a major in insurance and financial services may be sufficient to become an insurance underwriter. However, many insurance underwriters first work as insurance agents, brokers, or adjusters for at least two to five years to gain the knowledge and experience of matters such as claims and accounting that are required to be an insurance underwriter. About half of insurance underwriters work for insurance companies; most work full time in an office, and the average income is a little over $50,000. Insurance underwriting is a good career choice for someone who is analytical, well-versed in math, methodical, organized and detail oriented. The Insurance Institute of Canada offers a professional designation for underwriters: the Chartered Insurance Professional.

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Last updated Feb 11, 2019