An insurance underwriting department is responsible for evaluating applications for coverage. Underwriters determine the level of risk for each applicant, decide whether the carrier or agency should issue a policy, and choose an appropriate premium. New employees of an underwriting department in a large insurance company often begin as trainees or assistants. The assistants collect information from applicants, create reports and learn to evaluate routine applications. They also may have administrative duties, such as data entry. Most underwriting assistants earn at least $33,000 per year.
The median annual salary for an underwriting assistant as of March 2011 is $37,902, reports Salary.com. The middle 50 percent of underwriting assistants make $33,181 to $43,261 per year. The bottom 10 percent have annual salaries of $28,883 or less, and the top 10 percent earn at least $48,140 per year.
Median salaries for underwriting assistants vary with geography. Underwriting assistants in Wausau, Wisconsin, for instance, have a median annual salary of $33,543, while those in Hartford, Connecticut, earn a median salary of $41,238 per year. Underwriting assistants in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, have a median yearly salary of $35,389; in Richmond, Virginia, $36,993; in St. Louis, $37,675; in Dallas, $37,789; in Atlanta, $37,978; and in Denver, $39,039. Underwriting assistants in San Francisco earn a median annual salary of $45,483, with the top 25 percent there making $51,913 per year and higher, and the top 10 percent $57,768 and higher.
With experience, an underwriting assistant can advance to become an underwriter. According to Salary.com, the median annual salary for entry-level underwriters and those with up to three years of experience in life insurance underwriting is $42,723; in group insurance, $44,365; and in property and casualty, $45,659. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median salary for all insurance underwriters as of 2009 at $57,820 per year.
Automated underwriting software is increasing productivity in this field, which will probably lead to a decline in underwriting jobs, according to the BLS. Nevertheless, job openings will occur because of high turnover, a result of the limited chances for advancement in the underwriting profession. Individuals with good computer skills and experience or education in finance should have the best opportunities for available positions in underwriting.