Insurance underwriters evaluate insurance applications and decide whether to approve them. For approved applications, underwriters determine coverage amounts and premiums.


Insurance underwriters typically do the following:

  • Analyze information stated on insurance applications
  • Determine the risk involved in insuring a client
  • Screen applicants based on set criteria
  • Use automated software to determine the risk of insuring applicants
  • Review recommendations from underwriting software
  • Contact field representatives, medical personnel, and others to obtain additional 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 sales agent. Insurance underwriters use computer software to analyze risk for determining whether to approve an applicant. They take specific information about an applicant 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.

For simple and common types of insurance, such as automobile insurance, underwriters typically rely on automated recommendations. For specific and complex insurance types, such as workers’ compensation, underwriters need to rely more on analytical insight.

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

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: health, life, 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 the person’s 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 in commercial (business) insurance or personal insurance. They also may specialize by the type of policy, such as for insuring automobiles, homes, or pets.

Work Environment

Insurance underwriters held about 123,300 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of insurance underwriters were as follows:

Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers            43%
Insurance agencies and brokerages 27
Credit intermediation and related activities 5
Other insurance related activities 5
Direct health and medical insurance carriers 4

Underwriters work in an office setting during regular business hours. They spend much of their time alone at a computer, most often working on applications but sometimes handling customer inquiries.

Some property and casualty underwriters travel to assess properties in person.

Work Schedules

Most underwriters work full time.

Education and Training

Insurance underwriters typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. However, candidates who have an associate's degree or a high school diploma and insurance-related work experience sometimes qualify for positions. Certification may be beneficial.


Employers usually prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. A common field of degree is business. Coursework in finance, economics, and mathematics is helpful.

Some colleges and universities partner with local businesses to offer internships. These opportunities allow students to gain knowledge or practical experience through assisting in a variety of tasks, such as underwriting.


Beginning underwriters typically work under the supervision of senior underwriters for up to 12 months. Trainees work on basic applications and learn the most common risk factors. Some companies offer training programs that include classroom instruction on the basics of underwriting.

As new underwriters gain experience, they may work independently and handle more complex applications.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Employers may expect underwriters to become certified through coursework. These courses are important for keeping current with new insurance policies and changes in state and federal regulations.

Many options are available for certification or insurance specialty designations. Examples include the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation, the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation, and the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) certification.

Requirements for certification or designation vary and often include coursework or exams or both. Some credentials are available to new underwriters, but others require candidates to have a specified number of years of experience.


Experienced underwriters may advance to become senior underwriters or underwriter managers. Underwriters may need certification to progress into these positions.

Personality and Interests

Insurance underwriters typically have an interest in the Thinking, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Thinking or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as an insurance underwriter, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Insurance underwriters should also possess the following specific qualities:

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

Decision-making 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.


The median annual wage for insurance underwriters was $76,390 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,330, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,380.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for insurance underwriters in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Credit intermediation and related activities $78,060
Direct health and medical insurance carriers 77,290
Insurance agencies and brokerages 76,450
Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers           76,040
Other insurance related activities 62,320

Most underwriters work full time.

Job Outlook

Employment of insurance underwriters is projected to decline 4 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Despite declining employment, about 8,400 openings for insurance underwriters are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 


Automated underwriting software allows workers to process applications quickly, reducing the need for underwriters. As this technology continues to improve and become more widely adopted in the insurance industry, more underwriting decisions are expected to be made automatically.

However, there still will be a need for underwriters to review and update the criteria that run the automation. In addition, their analytical insight will be needed in specific fields, such as workers’ compensation, marine insurance, and health insurance.

For More Information

For more information about property and casualty insurance, visit

Insurance Information Institute (III)

For more information about certifications, visit

The Institutes

The American College of Financial Services

National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA)



Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

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