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Underwriting Training Programs and Requirements

Insurance underwriters review potential risk in order to decide whether or not their company should provide insurance to an applicant, and if so, what the appropriate premium should be. Underwriters use various software programs and reports to help determine the appropriate risk category.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

Professionals seeking a career as an underwriter generally need a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate programs of choice may vary. They should have strong math and computer skills in order to succeed, as well as the ability to handle confidential information. Interpersonal skills are also important.

Formal Education

The most common bachelor's programs appropriate for insurance underwriters are in insurance and risk management or finance. However, other business degrees are often considered acceptable by employers.

Bachelor of Science in Insurance and Risk Management

Baccalaureate degrees in insurance and risk management incorporate a multidisciplinary set of courses. Specific requirements include general education courses, business courses, professional courses and electives. Professional courses include a variety of topics, such as general principles, employee benefits, business operations, life and health insurance. Additional courses are generally recommended in accounting, economics marketing, management and finance.

Bachelor of Science in Finance

A bachelor's degree in the field of finance requires completion of general education and business specific courses. These may include business finance, financial planning, financial analysis and investments. General business management courses are also part of the curriculum. Such programs usually incorporate internships, which often assist in job placements.

Job Experience

Entry-level underwriters normally start at the assistant or trainee level and work with a more seasoned professional. Most companies provide comprehensive internal training programs that vary in length. Beginner underwriters progress from simple applications to more complex cases as time goes on. Generally, several years of experience is required to become an independent underwriter.

Workshops and Seminars

Insurance companies frequently offer continuing education in order to ensure their underwriters are up-to-date on computer software, legal issues and corporate policy, since regular changes in state and federal laws will impact insurance clients. Numerous professional societies also sponsor annual conferences and regular seminars. Such seminars may focus upon a specific specialty area; for example, there are societies for health underwriters and property underwriters.

Additional Professional Development

In addition to the specialty societies, more general associations exist, such as the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Beginning underwriters may enroll in a training program offered by the Insurance Institute of America; several designations for more experienced professionals are also available through the organization. The Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation is sponsored by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. It requires the completion of eight examinations, adherence to a code of ethics and a minimum of three years of employment experience. Other professional designations are also available for professional to pursue, depending upon experience and area of interest.

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