What Is an Underwriters Association?

An underwriters association is an industry group dedicated to maintaining and providing continuing education and networking opportunities for underwriters.

Key Takeaways

  • Underwriter associations are generally nonprofit entities funded by membership dues.
  • Underwriters associations conduct advocacy efforts at the state and federal government levels with the goal of advancing the interest of insurance professionals.
  • Underwriter associations offer members a variety of professional development services and special perks for members.

Understanding Underwriters Associations

An underwriters association offers members a variety of professional development services. These typically include online learning seminars, discounts on attendance at professional conferences, discounts on subscriptions to various publications, and business development tools. These associations are generally nonprofit entities funded by membership dues.

Typically either regional or national in scope, underwriters associations conduct advocacy efforts at the state and federal government levels with the goal of advancing the interest of insurance professionals. In this sense, they are similar to other professional organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA) for doctors, the National Bar Association for lawyers, and the Modern Language Association for humanities professors.

Some of the largest underwriters associations include Group Underwriters Association of America (GUAA), the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) and Community Association Underwriters (CAU).

The International Underwriting Association (IUA) based in London, England, advocates on behalf of insurance and reinsurance companies operating in the U.K. Their mission has evolved over the years from when they were primarily a strategic lobbying organization to their modern-day priority on providing support and services to members.

Examples of How Underwriters Associations Work

The IUA and Brexit

A recent example of the value of underwriters associations can be seen in the leadership role the International Underwriting Association (IUA) played during the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, also known as Brexit. The IUA published a Brexit Clause to help companies navigate the many uncertainties brought about by the U.K. exit from the EU and the resulting impact on existing deals and agreements. Called the Brexit Contract Continuation Clause, this clarification from the IUA is intended to help guide firms on issues around paying claims, thereby avoiding disruptions that could arise as the transition unfolds.

It is conceivable that some insurers presently relying on the EU financial services passport for doing business with continental Europe may not be licensed on existing contracts after a Brexit deal is finally concluded. The new clause drafted by the IUA addresses that unintended consequence of Brexit, thereby allowing U.K.-based insurers to proceed with new business activities within continental Europe.

The new clause published by the IUA includes accompanying commentary outlining the various circumstances in which it may prove useful. While the clause is primarily intended for insurance business, it could also apply to reinsurers.

Underwriting Associations like the IUA are of particular value when helping members navigate changing times, such as those being witnessed with Brexit in the U.K.

NAHU and Single-Payer Systems

In 2019, some candidates vying to be the Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have proposed a single-payer health insurance system that is sometimes called Medicare for All or M4A. These plans would replace the private insurance Americans get through their employers with a single point of purchase run by the Federal government.

The National Association of Health Underwriters "strongly opposes all forms of single-payer healthcare" and has set up a web page for members to coach them on how to lobby against such plans. In addition to their stated philosophy that "when the free market and public programs work together [they] bring down the cost of care," they are also advocating against a change that could negatively affect the role and number of health underwriters in the U.S.