Underwriters: The Gatekeepers of Insurance

Why do insurance agents ask so many questions? What is an underwriter? Who do they work for? What is their function? How do I convince them to give me the best coverage for a good price?

Underwriters are the men and women that check over your agent’s quote submissions. Each Underwriter only work for one insurance carrier/company (E.g. Progressive), and they ultimately receive the information that your insurance agent asked you for. With that information, they have to determine if you are eligible for insurance, and if you are, what types of coverage you qualify for, how much coverage can be provided, what exclusions should be applied, and what the premium should be. 

So the first step is to determine if you fit into the company’s desired risk appetite. To do this, they have to follow the carrier’s rules and guidelines in accepting prospects. A few examples of ‘risk appetite’ and ‘rules and guidelines’ are the following:

  • Some carriers will only accept clients who place both their home and auto insurance with them.
  • Some carriers won’t accept buildings that still use fuse boxes instead of breaker boxes.
  • Some carriers won’t insure people/entities with certain types of claims
  • Some carriers won’t insure people/entities who have a predetermined amount of claims or total amount of claim dollars
  • And many more, all unique to each insurance company

If the prospect meets all of the criteria, the Underwriter will then determine what kind of quote they will give. They will determine if there are any special conditions, if they need to add any exclusions, and will ultimately decide what the overall price will be. And until the underwriter gives their approval of a quote, the agent cannot bind coverage.

So How Can I Convince the Underwriter to Give Me Discounts?

One of the main functions of an underwriter is to create a risk profile for each person/entity. The more complete the profile is, the more the underwriter will know about the client. And the more the underwriter knows about the client, the more comfortable they will be with giving discounts and credits to them. The types of things that give a good description of a client, personal lines or commercial lines, includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Update Information
  • Bio/resume of the client/entity
  • Claims history with detailed claim descriptions
  • Risk management procedures
  • Experience information

The more information an agent can give the underwriter, the better the quote they will give. Maybe that means fewer exclusions, lower deductibles, a better price, or a combination of some or all of those! Note that all information given to an agent is confidential, and will only be used to provide the Underwriter with necessary information for quotation.


Colten Zamrzla, CPCU

Colten first started in the insurance industry in 2010. He then pursued a Bachelor's degree in Finance & Insurance from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Once graduated, he immediately started studying for the CPCU and achieved it in just shy of a year. He is solely focused on commercial insurance, able to assist all types of businesses and nonprofits in risk management.

Colten has dedication and passion for his clients and the insurance industry as a whole. He dedicates time to furthering his knowledge on all things business and insurance, and he volunteers for the Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska, a state-based trade association.