Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Actuary


Quick Summary of Actuary

An actuary makes assessments about the likelihood an event may happen and the associated costs. Actuaries may work for investment firms, where they research pricing and manage investments, particularly how to mitigate risks, and life insurance companies where they are responsible for providing data so the company can create policies and pricing schedules which ensure the insurance company has enough money to cover their claims. They also can work at pension funds, where they are responsible for placing a value on accumulated pension commitments, and management, banking and capital project companies.

What is the dictionary definition of Actuary?

Dictionary Definition

An actuary applies advanced mathematical, statistical and actuarial methods to minimize the financial impact of future events.

In the Insurance industry, actuaries analyze data to estimate the company cost for such events as loss of life, Illness, injuries, or disability.
In Finance, actuaries help set securities pricing, creation of new investment vehicles, and may also be involved in providing investment advise and/or asset management.
Pension actuaries calculate funding requirements and contribution amounts by employees that will provide retirement income for these employees.

Full Definition of Actuary

A statistician who computes insurance and pension rates and premiums on the basis of the experience of people sharing similar age and health characteristics.

An actuary is a business professional specializing in the statistical assessment of financial risk. They are typically employed by the insurance industry to calculate the level of risk an applicant for an insurance policy presents.

This isn’t done on an individual basis, but on a demographic basis.

The profession also includes statisticians who provide expert data analysis on risk assessment and risk management for the financial services sector. Actuaries are most often employed within the insurance industry, but also prepare and assess data for commercial and investment banks, retirement and pension fund administrators, or are self-employed as consultants. Specific data prepared by actuaries is often presented in the form of actuarial tables (mortality tables) that indicate the life expectancy of an individual. Such tables may be used as the basis for calculating estimated insurance premiums or monthly retirement annuities. When utilized by expert witnesses, actuarial tables are admissible in evidence to show life expectancy. Juries may award damages to plaintiffs for compromised life expectancy resulting from the alleged wrongdoing of tortfeasors (wrongdoers).

Various factors will be combined to provide a calculation of risk for someone or a situation that meets certain set criteria, and this calculation will be used to set the level of premiums to be paid.

For example, a young driver will automatically fall into a higher risk demographic than a more experienced one, and this is down to the rules that actuaries formulate.

Likewise, more powerful cars will attract higher insurance premiums than smaller ones. This is not only because bigger cars are usually more expensive and therefore more costly to repair or replace, but it’s also because the trend is that the more powerful the car, the more aggressively it will be driven, and it is also more likely to be driven by a male than a female.

Thousands of similar trends and rules are used depending on the policy type, with the aim of predicting how much a policy is likely to cost an insurer on average and price it accordingly.

An actuary uses a variety of risk tables and statistical techniques and tools to perform and calculate risk assessments.

Determining the potential for future claims is the main responsibility of an actuary.

Typically, an actuary has a background in mathematics and accounting. Anyone considering a career as an actuary will need to understand mathematical concepts, have economic and statistical awareness and be able to apply their knowledge in the real business environment. Actuaries must also have good communications skills so they can translate information to non-specialists. Actuaries can also gather skills to move to different areas of business including teaching, alternative risk roles, consultants, business operations managers, and career advisers.

An actuary is most often employed in the insurance industry to evaluate risks associated with the underwriting and/or administration of insurance policies. An insurance actuary performs calculations associated with premiums, pensions, reserves, dividends and annuity rates, among others.

The term actuary is used primarily in the United States. In most other countries, an actuary would be referred to as a mathematician. To become a fully credentialed actuary, one must pass a plethora of examination sessions which can take several years to complete.

Examples of Actuary in a sentence

The actuary is working on a chart that shows the likelihood of flood damage for all of the properties in the area.
A certified actuary needs to have the ability to compress large amounts of data into precise equations and numbers.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Actuary. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
October 04, 2022
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Actuary. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: October 04, 2022).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Actuary. Retrieved October 04, 2022
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Actuary are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 9th October, 2021 | 0 Views.