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What is an Insurance Underwriter

What is an Insurance Underwriter?


The UK has the largest insurance industry in Europe and the 3rd largest in the world. It has 976 companies in the UK authorised to sell General Insurance products employing more than 320,000 people.

As an insurance underwriter, you will assess risks and decide whether or not to accept applications for insurance cover and on what terms. The aim is to minimise exposure for their company and help to make a profit. You will be the main point of contact for insurance brokers who have an agency with the insurance company.

As an insurance underwriter your typical tasks would include:

  • Studying insurance proposals
  • Gathering background information, such as claims histories and previous covers
  • Analysing statistics from actuaries and other sources
  • Getting specialist risk assessments from experts such as surveyors
  • Making Recommendations as to whether a policy is reasonable and, if not, whether the policy should be accepted with an increased premium or whether certain elements of an application present too high a risk and should therefore be excluded
  • Calculating the price of premiums
  • Visit brokers and develop relationships with them
  • Judging whether some of the risk should be shared with another insurer (known as “re-insurance”)
  • Preparing quotes and negotiating terms with brokers (B2B) or clients directly (B2C)
  • Deciding whether any special conditions should apply to policies
  • Writing policy wordings
  • Maintaining accurate and detailed records

Insurance underwriters would normally work closely with various departments in the company including actuaries, claims and risk managers but also a lot of interaction with the brokers themselves. General insurance companies usually focus on two areas of insurance; Personal Lines and Commercial Lines. Personal Lines underwriting covers individuals for Private motor, home, High Net Worth (HNW) pet or travel insurance. Personal lines business can be obtained from the underwriter via direct business i.e. speaking directly to the insurance company or through an insurance broker i.e. comparison sites.

Commercial insurance Underwriting deal with standard risks such as Commercial Property, Commercial Package, Liability, Motor Trade, Motor Fleet but also more complex, higher value and sometimes really unusual requests, such as insuring a fleet of ships or sports people and celebrities.


Most people don’t necessarily choose Insurance as a profession; they tend to fall into it. It’s not perceived as one of the “sexier” industries such as investment banking, marketing or IT. Entry requirements can vary between employers in the insurance industry. Companies often prefer a minimum of GCSEs (A*-C), including English and maths. However you do find that a number of larger UK general insurers offer Graduate Schemes and include underwriting as part of their general graduate management training schemes. Graduate trainees enter at a more senior level and are usually offered a permanent job at the end of their training programme.

Be warned, however, that this route is generally extremely competitive, and the interviewing process is often extensive. You may be asked to attend several interviews in addition to group assessments. You will need a good degree and excellent interview skills.

Often, you can become an assistant underwriter after already gaining some experience in the insurance industry and then making the transition from support, admin or call centre into underwriting. Due to numerical and communication aspects of the job, qualifications in English and Maths are usually well received.

Specialist recruitment agencies such as Barker Munro are a good place to begin looking for work, particularly in this tough job market.

Employers may also encourage (or demand) that employees study for additional qualifications. This is particularly common on graduate training schemes. Often, these qualifications will be from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)

More information about these qualifications and the role of the Chartered Insurance Institute can be found on the CII website.

Training and development

Once you are working in underwriting for an insurance company, you will be trained through a mixture of in-house courses and learning on the job from experienced underwriters. You may spend up to two years learning about various types of insurance.

Your training is likely to include study for professional qualifications from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). The CII qualifications allow you to choose units of study relevant to underwriting and specific  insurance functions that you can specialise in – for instance commercial, personal lines, marine or aviation. Underwriters will usually start with the Award in Insurance progressing through:

If you deal with specialist risk in the London Insurance Market, you may be encouraged to take the Lloyd’s and London Market Introductory Test (LLMIT). You can take this as a separate qualification through CII (Award in London Market Insurance) or Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Award in Lloyd’s and London Market Insurance.

Barker Munro, insurance recruitment specialists in Kent and the South East have established themselves as leaders in the South East Insurance market. Keep up to date with insurance jobs in Kent and other market news via our Twitter page and following us on LinkedIn for the latest jobs, news, contents, blogs and career advice.