Understanding Auto Insurance Underwriting: Guidelines for Maximum Coverage

January 27, 2012

When you look at car insurance, one of the important factors to look at is the underwriting of the policy. Underwriting, as it pertains to an auto insurance policy, is one of the most misunderstood parts. Having a good understanding of this concept will also help you better understand your auto insurance policy as a whole. Here is some information that will help you see what underwriting is and how is pertains to your insurance policy.

The Risk of Insurance

Insurance companies really operate on the concept of risk. Every time they take on a new customer they are taking a risk that you will not have an accident. When you have an accident then they are obligated to pay for the damages which can amount of several hundred thousands of dollars. By operating a motor vehicle there is an inherent amount of assigned risk involved that both you and the insurance company take on. 

The Barter of Risk

With this assigned risk that runs under the involvement of both the insurance company and the insured, the insurance company charges a premium. This premium, as well as the deductibles for each policy, are there to help minimize the losses sustained in the event of accidents and lawsuits. Besides the risk of an accident, there is also the risk of losing customers due to overcharging as well as not making enough to pay for claims through undercharging. 

Enter Underwriting

If the insurance companies were to take on this risk all by themselves, then we would have to pay exorbitant prices for our auto insurance policy. Underwriting helps leverage the risk by helping the insurance company with a balance between price and risk. Underwriters are charged with the task of backing up the insurance company with the power of their investments and money so that they can help shape prices of policies and what will be covered.

Important to Customers

Underwriting, even if you do not fully understand it, is important to the customer because it can affect your insurance future. Because underwriters also inherit a lot of the assigned risk of an auto insurance policy, they have a lot of say in who is approved, or not approved, for car insurance through a particular insurance company. On the surface this might be overlooked, but it has penetrating results. Your insurance records are open to the public and can be looked at by other insurance companies. If you are denied by a certain insurance company, then chances are other underwriters will see this and either deny you again when you apply through another insurance company, or levy higher premiums. This is because the risk involved in insuring you is more than the risk of insuring someone without a lot of traffic violations or previous accidents. 

What Do Underwriters Consider?

Underwriters, because they have the task of working for the insurance company will look at several items as to whether or not you should be given insurance. Some of these factors include place of residence, age of driver, car being insured and your overall driving record. Any of these can cause the underwriters to choose to deny your application. Underwriters are a largely unnamed force behind insurance companies, but are very influential in the overall policies that are offered by insurance companies.