To underwrite is to insure or promise to be financially responsible in case of loss or damage. An insurance agent can underwrite your renter's insurance policy, which protects you if there's a fire or robbery, for example.

Insurance companies can underwrite, estimating the value of a life or property, and so can large banks — when a bank underwrites a loan, it means they carefully check the borrower's credit history. The word underwrite comes from the Old English underwritan, "write at the foot of," and originally is exactly what underwriters did, signing their names at the bottom of an assessment of risk, promising to pay in case of disaster in exchange for a set amount of money.

Definitions of underwrite

v protect by insurance

cover, insure
to take an action to protect against future problems
compensate, cover, overcompensate
make up for shortcomings or a feeling of inferiority by exaggerating good qualities
insure again by assuming all or a part of the liability of an insurance company already covering a risk
secure against future loss, damage, or liability; give security for
Type of:
guarantee, warrant
stand behind and guarantee the quality, accuracy, or condition of

v guarantee financial support of

subvent, subvention
Type of:
guarantee, undertake
promise to do or accomplish

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