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How Do I Become a Marine Underwriter?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A marine underwriter works for an insurance company and is responsible for reviewing and approving insurance policy applications. Someone wishing to become a marine underwriter must first gain some experience in the insurance industry and may have to pass an insurance licensing exam. Additionally, some insurance firms require underwriters to have college degrees in accounting, finance or a related field.

In most countries, insurance firms are regulated at the national or regional level. People who market or underwrite insurance products normally have to attend an insurance industry certification class. Someone wishing to become a marine underwriter must attend a class that centers around insurance laws and regulations for boats and other marine vessels. The training class normally culminates in an exam and test candidates must achieve a certain score in order to pass the exam and receive an insurance license or certificate.

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Prior to underwriting, most underwriters have experience as sales people or administrative employees. Sales people complete insurance applications on behalf of clients and conduct physical inspections of insured property such as boats or jet skis. Generally, sales agents are paid with commissions so successful sales agents quickly learn which types of policies are likely to be approved and which types of property and risk factors the underwriters will refuse to accept. Administrative assistants tend to receive salaries rather than commissions but these individuals assist agents in the preparation of insurance applications. Most insurance firms require anyone who wishes to become a marine underwriter to have spent a certain period of time as either an agent or assistant since people in both these roles are able to familiarize themselves with aspects of the underwriting process.

Underwriters are responsible for protecting the financial interests of insurance firms. A marine underwriter must use historic data to calculate the likelihood of a marine vessel sinking or incurring some kind of damage that will necessitate an insurance payout. Underwriters can mitigate risk levels by charging higher deductibles and upfront premiums for high-risk clients. Due to the calculations involved in preparing policies, insurance firms tend to hire individuals with a background in finance. Someone wishing to become a marine underwriter may complete a degree or a college course in actuary studies since a knowledge of this subject is necessary for anyone who has to make risk assessments.

Insurance firms sell policies on small recreational marine vessels such as speedboats and yachts as well as major commercial vessels such as cruise ships and oil tankers. Consequently, many insurance firms prefer to hire underwriters who have a broad knowledge of marine vessels and of maritime law. Underwriters who are familiar with the collateral can more easily tailor insurance policies to the needs of specific clients. Therefore, some underwriters are individuals who have prior experience working with shipping firms.

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