Becoming an underwriter

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Becoming an underwriter

Post by heaa21 »

I just graduated college in May, and after searching for P&C underwriting jobs in the entire Chicagoland area. I only got one interview for an underwriter training program with a very large carrier. I made it to the late interview rounds, but came up short unfortunately.

After months of frustration, I took a job with a large brokerage doing mostly clerical work. Answering phones, doing data entry etc. Needless to say, I'm as motivated as ever to get out and pursue underwriting again. I already have the CPCU 500 completed and was going to fast-track myself to completing the full CPCU. I am a very good test taker and I think I can pass the remaining tests in 5 months if I study several hours a day. My question is, will this translate to more interview opportunities? The issue for me in finding underwriting jobs is that 99% of the postings are looking for underwriters with 1+ years of experience - something a CPCU can't and never will get for me.

I'm willing to do whatever it takes to start my career in underwriting, but I fear I am somewhat directionless right now. Does anyone have any advice/similar experiences?
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Re: Becoming an underwriter

Post by mccluney »

What you lack right now is experience. I would talk with your current employer about expanding your role. Every brokerage firm would benefit if you had an agent's license. It would allow you to further progress in obtaining basic knowledge. Then I would pursue the CPCU. I would venture to guess that your employer would pay for the classes. The benefit to you is that you would be acquiring knowledge and learning how different insurance companies operate. You would also gain valuable contacts for you to discuss future plans.

My first insurance job was as an underwriter, after I graduated from college. Most underwriters end up becoming insurance agents. What you need to do is to broaden your horizons, acquire knowledge, become valuable to your current employer in what you do.
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Re: Becoming an underwriter

Post by earlybird »

Fast tracking the remaining CPCU classes will certainly enhance your resume, with an insurance carrier, not neccessarily with an agency, since that bunch is sold the CIC bill of goods. Back in the day, many underwriters did become independent agents, but today, not so. The opportunities with large insurers are limitless and the pay is much better than in the past. I would advise you to apply to large multi-line insurers, not personal lines insurers where you may be pigeon " holded" into a really boring position. Try to get a position in the commercial insurance division, even risk management, fidelity-surety and maybe even claims. Chubb, Travelers, ACE, Zurich are examples just to name a few.
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Re: Becoming an underwriter

Post by kevinraz »

I started my career on the agency side as a captive with Farmers Insurance. I then worked in two independent agencies (one a bank agency, the other a very large brokerage) before coming to the company side in 2002.

I would suggest that you consider sticking it out with the agency side for a few years. Underwriting is great and I really enjoy it but there are many similarities between underwriting for a company and being a producer at an agency - you are tasked at both places with bringing in & retaining profitable insurance business for your firm. In my current role I write new business for my company and handle few renewals and it's just like being back on the agency side only with more research, writing & referrals.

Also consider getting some more life experience as well. I started my insurance career around age 30 after spending many years in foodservice management & then several years in construction. Both of those backgrounds have really helped in working on related risks.

Final piece of advice if you want to be an underwriter: be willing to move. I moved my family from Iowa to North Carolina to make the switch from agency work to the company side, then 10 years later I'm back in Iowa working remote and getting paid pretty well. Most carriers want you at their HO, especially at the beginning of your time with them.

Good luck and private message me if you want to talk more!
Kevin Rasmussen
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Hastings Mutual Insurance Company
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Re: Becoming an underwriter

Post by AssociatePI »

mccluney wrote: Then I would pursue the CPCU. I would venture to guess that your employer would pay for the classes. The benefit to you is that you would be acquiring knowledge and learning how different insurance companies operate. You would also gain valuable contacts for you to discuss future plans.
Definitely recommend the CPCU designation, it's going to give you a leg up on other applicants and your brokerage background can help you gain the practical on the job insurance knowledge. Definitely ask your employer for expanded opportunities maybe reviewing policies and learning more about risk

You could also checkout the Associate in Personal Insurance Designation. The API designation is the first designation I received, it's only three exams and two of them also count towards your CPCU. The API 28 exam (One of the exams needed for the designation) focuses entirely on underwriting, covering a the day to day job of an underwriter, what to consider when reviewing policies and underwriting specifics about all personal lines of business

Also be sure to check if any of your college courses qualify as CPCU credit (See tip number four in this post about CPCU cost saving tips). Depending on which university you attended, you may be able to waive a few CPCU exams if you got a B or better in the class provides free content for the CPCU designation including practice exams, study guides, exam reviews and online courses. Pass your exam in less time with less studying
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Re: Becoming an underwriter

Post by junevjohnson »

My advice is more general career guidance, but I hope it still helps. For those same companies that turned you down, I would reach back out to the recruiters, referral sources and employees at your level and take them out to coffee. Call it an informational interview where you want to learn more about their personal and professional stories and career highlights. 80% of jobs are found through networking and the key to networking is building a real relationship.

The truth is people hire people they like. Ask as many questions you can until you find common ground, then build a relationship on that shared interest. From there, it's about checking-in every 3 months and updating them on your career success and celebrating theirs. If you're genuine and give more than you get, when a job presents itself then you'll be top of mind!
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Re: Becoming an underwriter

Post by des5500 »

I would also offer that networking within the CPCU community can assist you. Being an existing student will allow you to attend local CPCU chapter meetings that may also provide contact with persons who can share experiences and suggestions. Heck, some might even be aware of carrier positions. Go online at and research the local chapter for events and activities. But, above all, don't lose that enthusiasm for the industry!! There are few young people such as yourself who are actively looking to engage in this business. Underwriting is not an easy road but, then again, few things of value come without hard work. Stay positive. Things will work out. GOOD LUCK!!
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