Underwriting managers are responsible for making sure an insurance company’s guidelines for accepting a risk are adhered to by the company's underwriters. They may also play a role in shaping the company’s underwriting guidelines and monitoring their efficacy. To become an underwriting manager, one must normally have earned a four-year degree and industry designations and have several years of experience in underwriting. Many companies also require some experience in a supervisory or team leadership role.
Most underwriting managers have degrees in risk management, finance or business, though degrees in fields such as accounting and marketing are also commonly accepted. To become an underwriting manager, most graduates begin a career as an underwriting trainee. The trainee usually spends a year or two learning the industry and the company’s specific underwriting standards.
During this period, the trainee might begin to earn an industry designation, which may later increase the odds that he or she will become an underwriting manager. The most common industry designation is the chartered property casualty underwriter (CPCU). Many life and health companies require a chartered life underwriter (CLU) designation to become an underwriting manager. It can take several years of study and examinations for an underwriter to earn designations such as the CPCU or CLU.
Once an underwriter has graduated from trainee status, he or she will likely spend several years as a full-fledged underwriter. An underwriter normally will learn the industry standards for a broad range of products before focusing on a specific, specialized line of coverage. Some of the lines of coverage include homeowners, workers' compensation, professional liability, commercial property, life and disability. Most underwriting managers have expertise in a wide range of products and specialties, though there is usually little crossover between the property and casualty fields and the life and health fields.
Many companies prefer candidates to have some supervisory experience to become an underwriting manager. Underwriters can gain this experience through leading a team of other underwriters, trainees or account managers. A company will monitor an underwriting supervisor’s effectiveness with such metrics as account retention, premium-to-loss ratio and new business acquisition.
To become an underwriting manager, one must be able to develop working relationships with clients, vendors and brokers. In addition, an underwriting manager must be able to successfully balance the needs and goals of all of those parties while building a book of business that is profitable and has an acceptable loss ratio. It often takes six years or more of qualified experience in the field to become an underwriting manager.