Actuaries play a key role in insurance companies by serving as analysts who help determine whether the company should issue an insurance policy and what the premium for that policy should be. They use a great deal of statistical analysis in their work, as they examine huge amounts of data related to costing and trends. Insurance companies must always maintain their financial health, and the role of the actuary is to manage risk in the delicate balance between issuing policies (and the costs paid for them) and the exposure to financial risk for the company.
Often, actuaries help add statistically-significant data to data models for insurance companies and then analyze related effects on insurance policies. This typically includes examining incident data (such as car accidents by location or age ranges in auto insurance) and then adjusting rates and terms as necessary; they may also occasionally pull disparate data from a variety of sources for these adjustments. For example, those who work with homeowner's insurance may regularly assess not only crime data in a neighborhood, but also patterns of destructive weather where previous claims have been paid. This ongoing re-calculation of risk exposure for the insurance company is an actuary's primary responsibility.
Candidates for this position should have a college degree in actuarial science or a field related to statistical analysis. They must also be highly experienced with computers and able to quickly manage large data streams to discern trends and useful information. Most actuaries work for insurance companies, although some financial service companies may have actuarial departments which manage investment risks. Actuaries generally work in office environments during traditional business hours.
- May ascertain premium rates required and cash reserves necessary to ensure payment of future benefits.
- Analyze statistical data, such as mortality, accident, sickness, disability, and retirement rates and construct probability tables to forecast risk and liability for payment of future benefits.