Todd Blandin, director of product marketing for LOMA, an insurance industry trade association, says "Underwriting is a key position". "If an underwriter makes a mistake, it could affect 20,000 policies. If the company loses $500 on each policy, the underwriter has made a $10 million mistake."

Todd Blandin, director of product marketing for LOMA, an insurance industry trade association, says "Underwriting is a key position". "If an underwriter makes a mistake, it could affect 20,000 policies. If the company loses $500 on each policy, the underwriter has made a $10 million mistake." 


More Than Just Numbers

So who are these experts who guard business capital? Underwriters use mathematics and logical skills to conclude what insurance firms would charge policyholders.


Usually, underwriters start and stay inside one line of work -- property, health or life insurance -- and work with groups or single plans. Fresh underwriters begin their careers by doing routine work like gathering client’s figures and analyzing buyer applications.


Barbara Hastie, CLU, director of underwriting for the group insurance department of Prudential Financial explains, "As you become more skilled, you'll be exposed to more and more complex cases,” "Every company has its own titles, but you have inexperienced underwriters and a middle-experienced group of senior underwriters. When you get to that level, you're dealing with more complex cases and you get into the technical aspects of the insurance."


Inside underwriting, the professionals concentrating on the technical side are subject-matter specialists who recognize an insurance niche like marine, liability or workers' compensation. New underwriters usually have business knowledge that works well with their niche in underwriting or a college degree in finance or economics. But even liberal arts graduates can develop into underwriters if they've taken business, accounting and math classes.


Still, underwriters require other than subject-matter knowledge and a math background. The finest underwriters are outgoing and analytical, Hastie states. "You have to be curious and have a strong personality so when you're challenged on how you underwrote, you're able to articulate how you developed your rates and how you designed the plans," she says. "You have to be able to explain the plan so clients understand why one feature might be better than another."

Relationship-building abilities are also tremendously essential in underwriting, says Jenny Cox, a senior underwriter at State Farm Insurance. "Underwriters operate as the main link between an insurance company and insurance agents," she explains. "Maintaining this connection allows an underwriter to become the agents' trusted advisor. In an environment where agents/producers are required to sell and understand multiple lines of insurance and financial products, the underwriter is there to provide guidance and expertise."


Compensation Expectations

What sort of reward will this tough work get you? In 2009 there were about 3,859,200 underwriters employed in the Canada, receiving a moderate salary of $35,000, according to Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Touching New Heights


David Medvidofsky, vice president of a leading insurance group in North-America, expresses that he grabbed a common career track in insurance underwriting. He was an underwriter for his early career years, then a senior underwriter and then a supervisor.

"I went to work in product development for a couple of years, and then came back as a regional underwriting manager from there; I went into operations’’, adds David.


Source: Service Canada - http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/qc/job_futures/statistics/1234.shtml,
Insurance Bureau of Canada, career advice- www.monster.com