Definition, process, how long does it take


  • Underwriting is the process of taking risks in a financial transaction, typically a loan, insurance, or investments.
  • Underwriters assess the risk, determine how much to assume and at what price.
  • Underwriting helps set loan rates, insurance policy premiums and the cost of risk in securities markets.
  • Visit Insider’s Investment Reference Library for more stories.

Underwriting determines how risky a financial enterprise such as a loan, insurance policy, or investment is and whether to accept that risk. If the risk is worth taking, the underwriting process determines how much to charge.

“Underwriting is basically verifying all of the information the borrower has provided on their loan application – their income, tax returns, bank accounts and other assets,” says Mayer Dallal, managing director of Mortgage Bank of California. “[Lenders] look at the debt-to-income ratio – basically how much you owe versus how much you earn. [Lenders] Also check credit scores – it’s hard to overstate how important a credit score is to the process. Then we get an appraisal of the property to see if the loan amount is appropriate, and do a title search to make sure there are no liens on the property. “

How the subscription process works

The main purpose of underwriting is to determine the risk. Knowing the amount of risk involved in a financial business helps establish the price and finally a decision to accept or reject the applicant or the business.

The subscription process varies somewhat depending on the type of subscription you make, but in general terms, here’s how it works:

Step 1: Review and assess the application or other documents to determine creditworthiness, medical history (life insurance), financial strength (investment), or other factors that vary by type of risk.

Step 2: Get a property appraisal, securities appraisal, or request a medical exam as needed to help further determine risk.

Step 3: Process all the information collected and make the decision to:

  • Accept: Approval involves other decisions, including lending rates, terms, premium amounts, or the price to pay for the securities, depending on the type of underwriting decision made.
  • Refuse: a refusal occurs when the various factors present an unacceptable risk in the eyes of the subscriber.
  • Pending: A decision to withhold the request usually means that the underwriter does not have enough or the right information to make a firm decision.

Types of subscription

Each type of subscription involves specific risks. Underwriters typically specialize in one of many types of risk.

Loan subscription

If you’ve ever applied for a personal, car, or home loan, you’ve probably heard the term “underwriting” as part of the application process.

Personal and auto loans, compared to mortgages, are relatively straightforward. The risk to the lender is that you will not repay the loan. These types of loans are often taken out using a computer and strict modeling algorithms. This is not to say that they are “not touched by human hands”, just that the process is not as complex as with other types of risk.

Mortgage / real estate loans are more complicated, mainly because the thing you are trying to buy is more expensive and the risk to the lender is greater. As stated above, a home loan or other home loan involves a thorough analysis of your personal finances, including your income, assets, debts, and your overall ability to repay the loan. In addition, the asset (house / real estate) must be appraised, valued to ensure that you are not paying too much. Other research involves making sure the seller actually owns the property, such as a title search.

“A lot of people don’t realize how tricky underwriting can be for a self-employed person or entrepreneur seeking a loan from a major bank,” notes Dallal. He blames him on the automated subscription which searches for a W-2 and when none is found, rejects the requester.

“But there is

mortgage lenders

who take a more individualized approach to loan qualification, rather than the cookie-cutter approach used by old-fashioned lenders, ”adds Dallal, advising borrowers to seek out these lenders.

Insurance subscription

Underwriting insurance involves evaluating an applicant for life or property insurance. It determines the risks involved in filing large or frequent claims and assesses the amount of coverage a person can receive, the amount they have to pay and the amount that an insurance company is likely to pay to cover the claim. policyholder.

Life insurance Underwriting involves assessing the potential insurer’s risk by assessing age, occupation, health, family medical history, lifestyle, hobbies and other characteristics.

Property and Liability Insurance underwriting requires an inspection of homes and rental properties for deterioration, foundation crumbling, damaged roofs, or anything that poses a risk to the insurer.

Subscription of securities

In subscription of securities, the process involves the sale of stocks or bonds to investors, often in the form of initial public offerings (IPOs) by an underwriter (bank). In this case, the bank relies on a group of underwriters who help it assess the risks, plan and execute the deal to secure the IPO and sell securities to finance the IPO.

It is not surprising that the time required to enter into a financial transaction depends on the type and complexity of the transaction. Taking out a personal loan or even a car loan can be done in minutes using a computer and software. Mortgages and life insurance take longer. Underwriting securities, for example for an IPO, is likely to take the longest time.

Personal loans or auto loans often take a week or less. In some cases, subscription and approval can be almost instantaneous, within minutes.

Mortgages It often takes 30-45 days for full approval, although the underwriting process is only part of that timeline and is usually completed in around 72 hours after the underwriter has obtained all the information they need.

Life insurance the underwriting is perhaps one of the least predictable when it comes to timing. Many life insurance policies require underwriting and approval within 24 hours. Depending on the health and other issues, however, the process can take a month or more.

IARD insurance is usually approved as quickly as a personal loan, that is, in one to seven days. However, the effective date of the insurance is after receipt of your payment. Getting approved for home insurance doesn’t mean you have it.

Securities underwriting as part of the IPO process typically occurs within the six to nine months it takes for a company to go from private to public. Since underwriters are involved every step of the way on behalf of the bank, their job is not done until the IPO is complete.

The financial report

Underwriting is a matter of risk and determining the cost (value) of that risk. With a loan, the risk is whether the borrower will repay or default and the cost is the amount of interest charged. With insurance, the risk is if too many policyholders file claims at the same time. To mitigate this risk, the cost is the premium charged to each insured. With securities, the risk is that the investment made will not be profitable. Cost is the difference between the amount the underwriter pays for the shares and the amount the public pays when the shares are sold.

The role of underwriting and underwriting cannot be underestimated. Without some risk assessment, all financial transactions would be a matter of “guessing”. Underwriting takes the guesswork out of guesswork and replaces it with a process designed to be fair to both lender and borrower; the insurer and the insured; the investor and the investment.

Lenders want to lend, insurers want to insure, and investors want to invest. Conversely, borrowers want to borrow, individuals want insurance, and IPOs want investors. Whatever your role in any financial interaction, know that the underwriter is there to ensure fairness.


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