Property Underwriter Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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A property underwriter's median annual salary is around $64,220. Is it worth the education requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career outlook to find out if becoming a property underwriter is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Property Underwriter

Property underwriters decide if an insurance company should insure personal property, such as a house or vehicle. Becoming a property insurance underwriter can be a solid career choice, but you should consider the pros and cons in order to make the right decision for you.

Pros of a Career as a Property Underwriter
Higher than average salary for insurance underwriters (median salary about $64,220 in May 2014)*
Opportunities to specialize (commercial or personal insurance, as well as various types of policies)*
Clean working conditions, regular hours*
Most positions only require a bachelor's degree*

Cons of a Career as a Property Underwriter
Negative job growth (six percent decline 2012-2022)*
May have to travel to client's homes or businesses*
May need to obtain and maintain professional certifications*
Decision-making process can be stressful*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Insurance underwriters determine whom to accept for coverage, as well as their premium. They enter information from the insurance application into a computer program that analyzes data and offers recommendations. The underwriter reviews the result and compares it with the company's criteria to determine approval or rejection. This position will require that you balance assuming too much risk, which can harm the company through excessive payouts, with taking too little risk, which causes the company to lose income from premiums.

A property insurance underwriter deals with policies that protect a property owner against loss of the property or its income-producing ability. This can include commercial insurance as well as homeowner's or motor vehicle insurance. Property insurance often is combined with casualty insurance, which protects the owner against liability for injuries caused by the vehicle or at the property. Property insurance underwriters can specialize in personal or commercial insurance or in types of policies, such as home, life or automobile insurance.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for all types of insurance underwriters was almost $64,220 in May 2014. The BLS said that most underwriters earned salaries between approximately $39,260 and $113,010 in May 2014.

Career Prospects

Most types of insurance underwriting jobs will take a hit from 2012-2022. The BLS predicted a decline in job growth of about six percent for all insurance underwriters. This slowdown can be attributed to improved computer software allows underwriters to process more applications in less time, according to the BLS. Most job openings should come from replacing retirees and people who are leaving the profession.

What Are the Requirements?

Many employers prefer to hire someone with a bachelor's degree, but some will consider a person with good computer skills and insurance industry experience. In college, you'll need to take courses in economics, finance, business and mathematics. Most business schools offer degree program in insurance and risk management. These undergraduate programs generally cover all types of insurance and can provide you with a solid background in the insurance industry, as well as the opportunity to gain real world experience through internships.

Useful Skills

You need to be a sound analytical thinker, which means looking at data and being comfortable making a decision. You should also be detail-oriented and have good communication skills. Developing critical thinking and interpersonal skills may also be beneficial.

What Employers Want

In addition to a bachelor's degree, many employers are looking for someone with underwriting experience. Several postings mention travel as a requirement. Here's a sampling of what real employers sought in job postings in April 2012:

  • A California-based insurer needed underwriters for unique or complex insurance risks at several offices around the country. A bachelor's degree and at least six years experience were required. The employer desired someone with certification as a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU).
  • A European insurance firm was looking for an experienced underwriter to work with its North American branch to underwrite and analyze new and renewal business for large accounts. The ad called for someone familiar with underwriting philosophy, techniques, national/local filing regulations and guidelines.
  • In Pennsylvania, a company was looking for an experienced person to underwrite complex property and casualty insurance risks. The person must be able to keep up with loss trends and relevant economic and legal factors regarding the business line in a fast-paced environment.
  • An insurance company needed someone in its Missouri office to quote, issue and service accounts. This person must be willing to travel at least 25% of the time and be an excellent communicator.

How to Stand Out

Get Certified

Many employers want their underwriters to hold certification from a professional organization, which BLS notes may also be necessary for promotion to senior underwriter and management positions. Some bachelor's degree programs prepare students to take certification exams before graduation so they can list the credential on their resume. Several organizations offer training programs and certifications, including the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (AICPCU) and the Insurance Institute of America.

In addition to appealing to employers, certification can pay off financially. The AICPCU noted in 2012 that CPCUs earn 29% more than their uncredentialed peers and 91% reported an increase in job opportunities.

Continuing Education

You will want to take advantage of continuing education courses to maintain your certification and keep your knowledge current on technological advances and changes in state and federal regulations. The AICPCU offers online continuing education courses.

Other Career Paths

Actuary

If you like dealing with risk management, but want a bigger salary, you might consider a career as an actuary. Actuaries work with businesses to gauge the likelihood of a catastrophic event and figure the financial cost if the event occurs. They help develop insurance policies to cover these risks. The BLS reported the median annual salary of an actuary as about $91,000 in May 2011.

Actuaries need a bachelor's degree in actuarial science, finance, business or mathematics. Many employers want someone who holds professional certification from the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA).

Claims Appraiser

If getting out of the office and into the field seems more your style, consider becoming a claims appraiser. You'll help determine if the company should pay claims and how much. Most appraisers deal with damaged motor vehicles. You will go to see the damaged vehicle and estimate the amount of damage and the cost of repair, if repair is feasible. Appraisers can complete a 2-year program in auto body repair at a vocational school that will include information on estimating repair costs. The median salary for a claims appraiser, investigator or insurance adjuster was about $59,000 in May 2011, according to the BLS.

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Kaplan University

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Georgetown University

  • Master of Science in Finance

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South College

  • Bachelor of Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Associate of Science in Accounting
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

University of the Southwest

  • Doctor of Business Administration
  • MBA - Finance

What is your highest level of education?

Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Risk Management & Insurance
  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration: Taxation

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business

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Winthrop University

  • Master of Business Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Business Admin - Financial Management
  • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
  • MBA - Financial Management
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business

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