Insurance underwriter - technicals, exit opps, lucrative career paths?

For an insurance company that provides Property and Casualty specialty insurance through an external network of insurance brokers.

Would greatly appreciate your insights on:

  • technical interview prep
  • lucrative career paths in insurance
  • exit opps

Comments (6)

Best Response
Oct 13, 2014 - 11:52pm

Know I'm kind of digging this up:

1. Technical Interview Prep:
Honestly understand the insurance industry in general and be ready for very standard questions:
-- What is insurance?
-- What technological advances are paving the way in insurance?
-- The more commercial insurance knowledge you have the better (CIP's, Joint Ventures, Contractual Liability
Almost everything they ask will be fit/behavioral and will not be technical unless you are applying to more reputable companies in their specialty lines (think AIG Energy Underwriter)

2. Lucrative Career Paths in Insurance
There are no "lucrative career paths" as compared to high finance with the exception of commercial brokerage for a top firm. That's the only way you will every hit more than 200-300k a year. Although there are different things rather than just the general P&C underwriter
-- Specialty Lines (marine, energy, aviation, pe, cyber, professional, etc) of these require either a basic underwriting platform before springing to OR if you have insurance related experience in undergraduate.
-- ReInsurance (Swiss Re) these guys are the ones who are looking at insuring insurance companies. Billions of dollars in coverage with premiums in the million. An underwriter in reinsurance has the ability to hit mid 100's within 3-5 years out of undergraduate and normally top out 10-15 years in around the 200-300 range. They rarely hire from undergrad unless you have related experience or come from a top school.

Even in general underwriter the salary goes like this (this is in Dallas, TX)
- Entry Underwriter 50-55k
- Sr Underwriter (3-5 years experience) 75-85k
- Underwriting Manager (6-10 years experience) 90-120k
Then you have senior positions like: Chief Underwriting Officer, Director of Commercial Underwriting, etc.
Those positions normally have comp similar to 200k range, but require lots of hard work.

If it's specialty lines add about 10-12% to those figures.
Resinsurance adds about 25%

However realize insurance isn't dominated with Type A personalities. It's people who love their 37.5 hour work weeks, relatively recession proof job and middle class/sometimes upper middle class lifestyle. If you come in with the mindset an IBD or high finance guy has, you can rock ship and do EXTREMELY well. You can make it from underwriter to specialty lines to senior underwriter to specialty lines manager makings 150k easily within 6-7 years if you are prepared and work hard.

3. Exit Opps
Honestly the best exit opp is to transition to a specialty lines or a reinsurance positions. However there are lots of exit opps that aren't exactly talked about:

- Risk Manager
Companies need insurance specialists and those with prior underwriting experience can help to make sure there are no gaps and that all the procedures have been set in place. The CPCU and ARM certs come in handy here and maybe even post MBA. You can come in with a risk manager title or insurance manager title, etc. The same managerial roles are useful in PEO's.

- Producer/Broker
Those firms that I said where the money is really made will hire underwriters because they know you have an understanding of the insurance industry and specific insurance fundamental. That makes you an asset in having you in the board room with a CRO who is well versed insurance but no real insurance experience.

- Some consulting roles
There are new breeds of insurance/risk consulting occuring out there and you can be on the forefront of that developing intense all encompassing insurance plans for small to medium size companies.

- Benefits Compensation Analyst/Manager
This is an HR role but it has some interesting cross over.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller. "Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL
  • 2
Oct 14, 2014 - 12:12am

Insurance Underwriter to corporate finance/Commercial Real Estate (Originally Posted: 06/13/2012)

I'm currently in the Insurance industry working for HIG as an underwriter. I underwrite liability coverage that covers directors and officers, the entity, and their employees from any legal suits. Most of the exposure is written off a companies financial stability, thus we analyze audited financials and evaluate how profitable and liquid their b/s is. I have about 2 years of working experience and graduated with a BA in econ with a below 3.0 gpa from a no name school. I live in the DC area and am really eager to break into a commercial real estate or corporate finance position. Although, we do analyze financials, the analysis isn't as detailed as I would like it to be, it's only surface analysis. I would like to get into some modeling as well. I have been whoring out my resume, but have not been getting too many hits. Any advice on how to be more marketable would be greatly appreciated.

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