The Underwriting Staffing Challenge: Recruitment Strategies for a Vanishing Talent Pool

February 10, 2016 by Joyce Dunn

The war for talent has hit the insurance industry with incredible force. Having weathered the recent “Great Recession” with its record unemployment rates, company downsizings and mass professional lay-offs, the industry now comes face to face with a new challenge: an emerging talent crisis.Executive SummaryAmid what is undoubtedly the most competitive recruiting environment the industry has ever faced, the talent pinch is hitting especially hard within the underwriting function, writes Jacobson’s Joyce Dunn, who offers two solutions: developing the next generation of underwriting talent and implementing interim staffing strategies to meet immediate needs.

Executive Summary

Amid what is undoubtedly the most competitive recruiting environment the industry has ever faced, the talent pinch is hitting especially hard within the underwriting function, writes Jacobson's Joyce Dunn, who offers two solutions: developing the next generation of underwriting talent and implementing interim staffing strategies to meet immediate needs.

Thanks, in part, to aging industry professionals and a rise in retiring employees, insurers are now met with an immense skills gap within their organizations. Nowhere is this talent pinch felt more than within the underwriting function.

The demand for underwriting talent has skyrocketed in recent years as insurers look to improve profitability. A 2013 study revealed a growth rate for insurance underwriters of nearly 6 percent (between 2010 and 2020). Add in a replacement rate of 32.6 percent—well above the national average for job openings resulting from retiring workers or other permanent vacancies—and it is clear that the underwriting function faces a dire need for talent. Unfortunately, the supply of insurance underwriters fails to keep pace with the increased industry demand.Editor’s Note: The source of this data is the 2013 Deloitte report, “Talent 2020: Surveying the talent paradox from the employee perspective,” citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013. The most recent BLS analysis shows a projected decline in employment for insurance underwriters of 11 percent from 2014-2024 but a replacement rate of 19 percent, with 19,500 underwriter job openings attributable to replacement needs rather than growth.