1 A person who examines a risk, decides whether or not it can be insured, and, if it can, works out the premium to be charged, usually on the basis of the frequency of past claims for similar risks. Underwriters are either employed by insurance companies or are members of Lloyd's. The name arises from the early days of marine insurance, when a merchant would, as a sideline, write his name under the amount and details of the risk he had agreed to cover on a slip of paper.
2 The firm that issues an insurance policy, thereby accepting liability for specified losses.
3 A financial institution, usually a merchant bank, that guarantees to buy a proportion of any unsold shares, bonds, etc. when a new issue is offered to the public. Underwriters usually work for a commission, and a number may combine together to buy all the unsold shares, provided that the minimum subscription stated in the prospectus has been sold to the public.
4 Any person or enterprise that accepts financial responsibility for a transaction or project.