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Underwriting Risk: Definition & How It Works

Updated: November 24, 2022

The insurance industry has a wide range of requirements and rules to follow. It also has several unique circumstances that need to be taken into consideration. These circumstances can affect the overall ability of an insurance company to provide coverage.

One of the biggest risks that an insurance company faces is the underwriting risk. Read on to learn all about underwriting risk. We will cover how it works, some considerations and requirements, and an example!

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    • Underwriting risk is the potential for an insurance company to lose money on a policy.
    • It is measured by looking at the number of claims an insurance company receives, as well as the amount of money paid out in claims.
    • Risk mitigation efforts help avoid traditional underwriting risks. This includes assessing the risks of a potential policyholder before writing a policy.

    What Is Underwriting Risk?

    Underwriting risk refers to the potential for financial loss. Insurance companies face this risk when they agree to provide coverage for an individual or organization.

    This type of risk can come from many sources. This includes an inaccurate assessment of the risks involved in providing coverage. It can also come from uncontrollable external factors.

    As a result, an insurer’s costs may end up exceeding the premiums it collects. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at underwriting risk and how it can impact an insurance company’s bottom line.

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    How Underwriting Risk Works

    In the insurance industry, underwriting risk is the risk that an insurer will incur losses because it has accepted a policyholder with a higher-than-average probability of making a claim.

    There are two types of underwriting risk: inherent and moral. Inherent underwriting risk is the risk that a policyholder will make a claim regardless of the insurer’s underwriting standards. Moral underwriting risk is the risk that a policyholder will make a claim because the insurer has relaxed its underwriting standards.

    In order to manage underwriting risk, insurers use a variety of techniques, including insurance scoring, reinsurance, and risk-based pricing.

    The role of underwriting risk can be a significant financial burden for insurance companies. But it is important to remember that without this type of risk, many people would be unable to obtain the insurance coverage they need.

    Insurance helps protect businesses from financial devastation by assuming this risk.

    Special Considerations for Underwriting Risk

    It’s important to keep in mind that insurers are in business to make money. So they’ll try to price their policies in a way that minimizes their losses and maximizes their profits.

    As a result, you may find that your risk premium goes up after you’ve filed a claim or two. This is because your insurance company has now determined that you’re a higher-risk customer. And they need to charge you more in order to protect their bottom line.

    Requirements for Underwriting Risk

    Underwriting risk is the potential for financial loss that an insurer faces when it agrees to cover an individual or entity. When underwriting a policy, insurers consider many factors in their assessment of risk.

    Some of the things taken into account include your age, health, credit history, and the type of coverage you’re seeking. In some cases, you may need to undergo a medical exam to get coverage.

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    Underwriting Risk Example

    To illustrate the goal of underwriting risk, let’s consider a hypothetical example. Imagine that you’re the owner of a small business that manufactures widgets. You’ve been in business for several years and have always carried your own insurance.

    However, recently you’ve been having some financial difficulties. so you decided to shop around for a new insurance policy. After some research, you find an insurer that is willing to provide coverage for your business at a lower rate than what you’re currently paying.

    You’re happy to save money on your premiums, so you decide to switch insurers. A few months later, one of your employees gets injured on the job. The employee sues your company for damages, and your insurance policy pays out $500,000 to settle the claim.

    Your old insurer would have covered the claim, but because your new insurer charges lower rates, your new insurer is stuck with the bill. And as a result of this one claim, your new insurer’s underwriting risk has increased significantly. They may even decide to non-renew your monthly premium when it comes up for renewal.


    Underwriting risk is the risk that an insurance company will incur losses because it has underpriced a policy.

    When you purchase an insurance policy, the insurance company is taking on some risk. They’re hoping that they won’t have to pay out any claims, but they know there’s always a chance that something could happen, and they’ll have to pay up.

    This is where underwriting comes in. Underwriting is the process that insurance companies use to determine how much risk they’re willing to take on. They do this by looking at factors like your age, health, and the type of coverage you’re looking for.

    Based on this information, they’ll set a price for your policy. If they think there’s a higher chance that you’ll make a claim, they’ll charge you more.

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    Underwriting Risk FAQs

    What is underwriting default risk?

    This type of underwriting comes from the possibility that a borrower will not make payments on their loan or will not make payments on time.

    Why is underwriting risk important?

    Underwriting risk is important because it represents the potential for an insurance company to lose money on a policy.

    How is underwriting risk measured?

    Underwriting risk is measured by looking at the number of claims an insurance company receives, as well as the amount of money paid out in claims.

    What are the main types of underwriting risk?

    There are several underwriting risk types. The most common, however, are securities, loan, insurance, and forensic.

    How can underwriting risk be mitigated?

    With a focus for risk mitigation, an insurer can avoid underwriting risks. Risk mitigation efforts include assessing the risks of a policyholder before writing a policy.


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