underwriting career

Hey guys,

Would you think it is a good idea to start a career in underwriting? Mainly Health, Life and Personal Accident Insurance? I want to end up in a Relationship Management/ Account Executive post in the long run. What do you think?

Comments (8)

 
Mar 23, 2013 - 10:38am

Do you really want to do retail?

Why not go to one of the top training programs (ACE, Travelers, Chubb, etc), pick a corporate line (E&O, D&O, etc), "exit" to reinsurance, and make 6 (maybe 7) figures? It's basically the same thing as you're proposing, but on a far larger scale and therefore with higher comp.

"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."
 
Mar 23, 2013 - 11:38am

Sandhurst:
Do you really want to do retail?

Why not go to one of the top training programs (ACE, Travelers, Chubb, etc), pick a corporate line (E&O, D&O, etc), "exit" to reinsurance, and make 6 (maybe 7) figures? It's basically the same thing as you're proposing, but on a far larger scale and therefore with higher comp.

Well honestly I've been having a hard time with re-insurers even small local ones, no one is recruiting fresh grads. The position is corporate underwriting so I will be dealing with companies and such.

 
Mar 23, 2013 - 11:49am

moesters:
Well honestly I've been having a hard time with re-insurers even small local ones, no one is recruiting fresh grads. The position is corporate underwriting so I will be dealing with companies and such.

That's typical (GenRe and Zurich Re both recruit undergrads, but they're not the best places to learn). Most paths to Reinsurance go through a primary insurance training program. You just want to get into a good one - Re groups are streamlined enough that they don't want to be bothered with teaching graduates.

"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."
 
Mar 23, 2013 - 12:36pm

moesters:
So you think underwriting at a big insurer is a good starting point ?

I think it can be. Please note that I do not work in insurance; my knowledge comes from friends who do, and exposure to the industry from a finance perspective. But, to my knowledge, one of the major underwriter training programs is a great way to (i) learn a full underwriting toolkit, (ii) build credible work experience, and (iii) keep your options open. Which options you pursue depends on (a) who you are, and (b) what you're good at.

The underwriter is the "trader" of insurance: he seeks risk-adjusted value. This analogy is particularly pronounced in reinsurance, where underwriters don't just "originate" policies, they manage a book with a P&L and their own name attached. After the training program, you might turn out to have a great eye for corporate D&O policies (for example), and rise up to run the line for ACE (or wherever). This does not suck.

You might do flood insurance after that training program, and end up structuring cat bonds, maybe transitioning to a bank.

You might finish the same program, turn out to be a baller with some P&C line, and go to Trans Re, Validus, XL, or what have you. You could start in the training program at Arch, and go internally to Arch Re. If you're really lucky, you might one day run a sexy Bermuda reinsurer, live on the beach, play golf, and by the way make $10mm a year.

Point is, it's a huge industry. At the very least, do some networking, find a mentor or two (i.e., don't just use people to get interviews) to learn about what's out there. I mean insurance is gigantic. You mentioned that you want to cover clients.. are you a people person? Go work for Aon or Marsh/Guy Carpenter and make bank as a corporate primary or reinsurance broker.

So really, please, just think outside the box - you should have no idea what you want to do long-term. Stay driven, keep your eyes pealed, and you'll have so many more opportunities that you otherwise might have overlooked.

"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."
 
Mar 24, 2013 - 3:05am

Sandhurst:
moesters:
So you think underwriting at a big insurer is a good starting point ?

I think it can be. Please note that I do not work in insurance; my knowledge comes from friends who do, and exposure to the industry from a finance perspective. But, to my knowledge, one of the major underwriter training programs is a great way to (i) learn a full underwriting toolkit, (ii) build credible work experience, and (iii) keep your options open. Which options you pursue depends on (a) who you are, and (b) what you're good at.

The underwriter is the "trader" of insurance: he seeks risk-adjusted value. This analogy is particularly pronounced in reinsurance, where underwriters don't just "originate" policies, they manage a book with a P&L and their own name attached. After the training program, you might turn out to have a great eye for corporate D&O policies (for example), and rise up to run the line for ACE (or wherever). This does not suck.

You might do flood insurance after that training program, and end up structuring cat bonds, maybe transitioning to a bank.

You might finish the same program, turn out to be a baller with some P&C line, and go to Trans Re, Validus, XL, or what have you. You could start in the training program at Arch, and go internally to Arch Re. If you're really lucky, you might one day run a sexy Bermuda reinsurer, live on the beach, play golf, and by the way make $10mm a year.

Point is, it's a huge industry. At the very least, do some networking, find a mentor or two (i.e., don't just use people to get interviews) to learn about what's out there. I mean insurance is gigantic. You mentioned that you want to cover clients.. are you a people person? Go work for Aon or Marsh/Guy Carpenter and make bank as a corporate primary or reinsurance broker.

So really, please, just think outside the box - you should have no idea what you want to do long-term. Stay driven, keep your eyes pealed, and you'll have so many more opportunities that you otherwise might have overlooked.

Dude thanks a lot for the help ! I really appreciate it

 
Mar 24, 2013 - 10:51am

Sandhurst - wanted to echo Moesters' appreciation, there's not much out there on this. Have some follow ups if you don't mind:

Do you have a sense of which companies offer better training programs? ie are ace/cb/trv all pretty comparable or is there a clear leader?

Any details on timing of career progression? Seems like 1 yr training program is standard. If the ultimate goal is to lateral to a reinsurer, how many years are we talking? Any sense of career progression/salary/hours along the way? Is an mba or some sort of actuarial certification necessary to progress beyond a certain level?

Thanks again

 
Mar 24, 2013 - 5:44pm
"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."
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