Medical underwriters work for insurance carriers and insurance agencies to minimize potential financial loss associated with offering health or life insurance policies. Approximately 67 percent of medical underwriters working in the United States in 2008 were employed by insurance carriers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Employers may require that medical underwriter job applicants hold a bachelor’s degree in an area like finance and have previous experience in the insurance industry before extending a job offer. New underwriting employees may receive on-the-job training and start their careers as trainee or assistant underwriters. Medical underwriters may need to attend continuing education classes to learn about newly approved government regulations and tax laws. Medical underwriters may choose to pursue professional designation offered by the American College as a Chartered Life Underwriter or as a Registered Health Underwriter.
A medical underwriter spends the majority of his work week evaluating the files of potential insurance policy holders. Medical underwriters may need to occasionally travel to attend company meetings or seminars, but they normally work out of a regional office or the headquarters of their employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, insurance underwriters generally work 40 hours per week.
A medical underwriter reviews application files for health and life insurance policies and determines eligibility coverage, premium rates and exclusion policies for consumers and businesses. Medical underwriters use computer programs to help determine the amount of financial risk that could occur as a result of insuring an individual or a group of people. Medical underwriters take into consideration an applicant’s age, profession, current health status and previous medical history to make a decision about whether or not to underwrite an insurance policy.
Medical underwriters seeking advancement opportunities in management or in a supervisory role as senior underwriters may benefit from returning to school and pursuing a master’s degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a medical underwriter gains experience, she may be assigned more complex cases, such as underwriting group health or life insurance policies for large companies.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that insurance underwriters employed in the United States will experience a 4 percent decrease in job opportunities from 2008 through 2018. According to the May 2009 statistics reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly income of insurance underwriters equaled $63,300, and the average hourly wage earned by professionals in this industry equaled $30.45.