Insurance Underwriting

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1 Insurance Underwriting Did you know? Access to insurance products is a critical part of our economy and our daily lives. For example, young parents can use insurance to protect their families. Businesses can use insurance coverage to take a risk that, alone, they could not. Without insurance, many of us would not take the risk of operating an automobile. If you enjoy working with numbers, have good research skills and are a problem solver, then the insurance underwriter might be a good career fit for you. Two roles that are core components of the insurance function are profiled in this field:! Insurance Underwriters determine whether clients are insurable and, if so, under what terms, aiming to prevent and minimize the potential for financial loss for their organization.! Actuaries leveraging their knowledge of statistics, finance and business, Actuaries determine the potential of risk activities occurring and help create policies and pricing that govern decisions about whether to accept these risks. What is Insurance Underwriting? Insurance underwriting is the fundamental process of reviewing insurance applications and deciding who and what to insure, for how much and under what conditions. Insurance underwriting is related to the field of risk management in that Underwriters assess the risks inherent in an insurance application and evaluate the probability of those risks occurring and the potential costs associated with occurrences. For example, when assessing a Life Insurance applicant, Underwriters take into account a variety of factors such as height, weight, marital status, occupation, income, and personal habits and hobbies (e.g. smoking, skydiving). Insurance Underwriters then determine the amount of premium to charge for each risk, along with the terms of the arrangement. There are three major domains of work for Underwriters and Actuaries: Life & Health: Life insurance is a financial benefit assigned to a person s family or other beneficiary in the event of death, and is typically designed to protect the dependents of an individual in the case of accidental or unforeseen death or illness. Health insurance policies provide coverage against costs associated with injury or illness and, in Canada, are typically negotiated as group policies provided as part of employment packages. Health insurance may include disability, injury, medical device/hospital coverage and the related health risks. Insurance Underwriters working in Life and Health evaluate and determine insurance premiums taking into account information such as age, life expectancy statistics, lifestyle, family health and employee needs. Actuaries working in the field of life and health insurance analyze factors and evaluate risks associated with various events such as disability/dismemberment, sickness, injury or death. As part of this assessment, they consider statistical information and research such as epidemiology reports, prognosis probabilities, morbidity rates as well as lifestyle factors such as age, general health condition and at-risk behaviours. Property & Casualty: Property insurance is coverage against risks associated with properties including fire, theft and damage. Casualty insurance covers against injuries to individuals (e.g. motor vehicle accidents). Insurance Underwriters working in Property & Casualty evaluate and determine insurance premiums taking into account data from a wide range of sources including crime reports and statistics, weather reports and trends, geological and engineering surveys and reports. Actuaries working in the field of Property & Casualty analyze factors and evaluate potential risks by examining information from reports such as crime reports and statistics, weather reports and trends, geological and engineering surveys and reports in order to create risk models and determine premiums for property and casualty insurance policies. Copyright 2010 Toronto Financial Services Alliance. All rights reserved. 1

2 Commercial & Industrial: Commercial & Industrial insurance covers a number of areas specific to organizations, such as commercial property damage, theft, business interruptions or employee injuries. The types of products may change depending on the industry, but in the financial services sector the coverage can be expanded to include customers needs (e.g. life or disability coverage on credit loans to customers) or organizational needs (e.g. fraudulent activity). Insurance Underwriters working in Commercial & Industrial insurance working in C&I insurance evaluate and determine insurance premiums based on organizational data and information received from senior management in the financial services sector in order to understand what types of risks affect their business (e.g. mortgage errors) and the resulting insurance needs. Actuaries working in Commercial & Industrial Actuaries working in Commercial & Industrial analyze factors and evaluated risks associated with building or employee injury, property insurance and sometimes loss of income for the organization, among other elements. What are the In-demand Careers in Insurance Underwriting? Two key roles are profiled in this section - insurance underwriters and actuaries. These roles work together to predict the costs associated with providing insurance products. That is:! Insurance underwriters work for companies that provide insurance services and provide insurance products to clients either directly (direct model) or through intermediaries such as insurance brokers (agents who sell these products to individuals and organizations). Ultimately, it is the insurance carrier (the company that issues the policy) that assumes the risk associated with applicants.! Actuaries, through their knowledge of statistics, finance, and business, assess the risk of events occurring and help create policies and pricing that govern decisions about whether to accept risks. Based on a multitude of factors, underwriters and actuaries determine the conditions (including premium amounts) under which insurance will be provided in order to help prevent and minimize the potential for financial loss for their organization. There are three major domains of work for Underwriters are given below. Life & Health Life insurance is a financial benefit assigned to a person s family or other beneficiary in the event of the person s death, and is typically designed to cover the costs of burial, funerals or other related costs. Life insurance can also include additional financial coverage to supplement the loss of income associated with the person s death. Health insurance policies provide coverage against costs associated with injury or illness and are typically negotiated as group policies provided as part of employment packages. Health Insurance is also available for individual purchase (e.g. by those that are self-employed or not satisfied with their employer s organizational package). Health insurance may include disability, injury, medical device/hospital coverage and the related health risks. Underwriters working in Life & Health may interact with physicians, medical analysts, employee groups and unions in order to evaluate and determine insurance premiums based on account information such as age, life expectancy statistics, lifestyle, family health and employee needs. Copyright 2010 Toronto Financial Services Alliance. All rights reserved. 2

3 Property & Casualty Property insurance is coverage against risks associated with any type of properties including fire, theft and damage. It can also include landlord insurance in the case of commercial properties or terrorism insurance. Casualty insurance covers against accidents or incidents affecting property (e.g. motor vehicles, recreational vehicles and personal property). Underwriters working in Property & Casualty may liaise with surveyors, industry experts, engineers and employees or corporate clients in order to evaluate risks and determine insurance premiums taking into account engineering reports, regional location, crime statistics and/or weather pattern reports (e.g. hurricane or tornado trends). Commercial & Industrial Commercial & Industrial insurance covers a number of areas specific to organizations, such as property damage, theft and business interruption or employee injuries. The types of products may change depending on the industry, but in financial services sectors the coverage can be expanded to include customers needs (e.g. life or disability coverage on credit cards or loans to customers) or organizational needs (e.g. coverage against fraudulent activity). Underwriters working in Property & Casualty evaluate and determine insurance premiums taking into account data from a wide range of sources including crime reports and statistics, weather reports and trends, geological and engineering surveys and reports. As with Insurance Underwriters, Actuaries typically work in three predominant areas: Life & Health Life & Health: Actuaries working in the field of Life & Health insurance analyze factors and evaluate risks associated with various incidents such as disability/dismemberment, sickness, injury or death. They consider such information as epidemiology reports, prognosis probabilities, morbidity rates as well as lifestyle factors such as age, general health condition and risky behaviours. They use this information to create models to determine premiums for life and health insurance policies. Property & Casualty Property & Casualty: Actuaries working in the field of Property & Casualty analyze and evaluate potential risks by examining information from reports such as crime reports and statistics, weather reports and trends, geological and engineering surveys and reports in order to create risk models and determine premiums for property and casualty insurance policies. Actuaries must then ensure that the premium charged for this insurance will remain competitive with other insurance companies, yet allow their organizations to remain profitable. Commercial & Industrial Commercial & Industrial: Commercial & Industrial insurance covers a number of areas specific to organizations, such as property damage, theft, and business interruption or employee injuries. The types of products may change depending on the industry, but in the financial services sector the coverage can be expanded to include customers needs (e.g. life or disability coverage on credit loans to customers) or organizational needs (e.g. fraudulent activity). Actuaries working in Commercial & Industrial analyze information from a variety of sources related to employee theft, crime statistics and factors related to financial fraud or risks associated with various jobs (e.g. probability of bank robbery as a risk factor for branch employees). Copyright 2010 Toronto Financial Services Alliance. All rights reserved. 3

4 Where are the Insurance Underwriting Careers? Insurance Underwriters compile and analyze research related to their area of specialty and use this information to make a determination about the risks inherent in individual insurance applications. They are responsible for selecting what elements will be covered and determining and negotiating the terms, costs and conditions with insurance brokers. Actuaries provide information and guidance to Insurance Underwriters, company executives, Risk Managers and Portfolio Managers on the nature of risk exposure to the company/portfolios. This information leads to guidance on terms, premiums and capital required to insure against claims. The actuarial profession requires a good blend of mathematical and theoretical expertise (e.g. understanding how risk affects claims) along with solid business understanding and creativity in order to identify emerging trends and risk implications. Actuaries work in a number of different settings:! Insurance companies track risk factors versus pricing for insurance offerings.! Banking manage credit, help set prices for corporate security offerings, and help devise investment tools.! Pension Plans evaluate company pension plans by calculating the future value of employee and employer contributions and determining whether the amounts are sufficient to meet the future needs of retirees.! Government provide statistical assistance to manage social programs. What are the Typical Competency Requirements for this Job Group? Regardless of which segment of the Financial Services Sector you may be exploring, Insurance Underwriters require specific soft skills:! Personal integrity and sense of ethics in making objective decisions regarding applications.! Service-oriented attitude with strong interpersonal skills to work collaboratively with insurance brokers and agents.! Ability to adapt and demonstrate flexibility in a dynamic environment where a multitude of application scenarios need to be considered.! Strong negotiation skills.! Excellent written, oral communication and presentation skills to communicate technical and complex information to a variety of people in meaningful terms and to communicate risk model components, outputs and recommendations to a variety of audiences Actuaries need to be:! Self-motivated with the ability to work independently.! Methodical and have an attention to detail in developing models, analyzing data and developing recommendations.! Creative and curious with the ability to come up with unique risk management plans dependent on the factors relating to specific individuals or circumstances. Copyright 2010 Toronto Financial Services Alliance. All rights reserved. 4

5 Representative Job Titles Depending on the organization you work for, Underwriters may hold various job titles:! Underwriting Associate! Underwriting Assistant! Underwriting Consultant! Underwriting Specialist! Underwriting Analyst! Insurance Underwriter! Exception Underwriter! Pricing Manager! Underwriting Operations Analyst Depending on the organization you work for, Actuaries may hold various job titles:! Actuary Analyst! Actuary Specialists! Chief Actuary Copyright 2010 Toronto Financial Services Alliance. All rights reserved. 5

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