Here is how the U.S. Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics) views actuaries:
"One of the main functions of actuaries is to help businesses assess the risk of certain events occurring and formulate policies that minimize the cost of that risk. For this reason, actuaries are essential to the insurance industry. Actuaries assemble and analyze data to estimate the probability and likely cost of the occurrence of an event such as death, sickness, injury, disability, or loss of property. Actuaries also address financial questions, including those involving the level of pension contributions required to produce a certain retirement income level and the way in which a company should invest resources to maximize return on investments in light of potential risk. Using their broad knowledge of statistics, finance, and business, actuaries help design insurance policies, pension plans, and other financial strategies in a manner which will help ensure that the plans are maintained on a sound financial basis.
Most actuaries are employed in the insurance industry, specializing in life and health insurance or property and casualty insurance. They produce probability tables which determine the likelihood that a potential future event will generate a claim. From these tables, they estimate the amount a company can expect to pay in claims. For example, property and casualty actuaries calculate the expected amount of claims resulting from automobile accidents, which varies depending on the insured person’s age, sex, driving history, type of car, and other factors. Actuaries ensure that the price, or premium, charged for such insurance will enable the company to cover claims and other expenses. This premium must be profitable, yet competitive with other insurance companies. Within the life and health insurance fields, actuaries are helping to develop long-term-care insurance and annuity policies, the latter a growing investment tool for many individuals."
In a nutshell, these are the guys who are supposed to price the risks we want to get rid of. Tough task indeed which requires, among other things, a solid quantitative background. This book is somehow the key to that background.
If you want to know more about this bible (reprinted several times), please go the book website (where they want you to believe that this is the book to read on a Brazilian beach!)
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Rob Kaas is Professor of Actuarial Science at the University of Amsterdam.
Marc Goovaerts is Professor of Actuarial Science at the University of Leuven.
Jan Dhaene is Professor of Actuarial Science at the University of Leuven.
Michel Denuit is Professor of Statistics at the Catholic University of Louvain.
ALSO IN CYBERLIBRIS:
Statistical Size Distributions in Economics and Actuarial Sciences, Christian Kleiber & Samuel Kotz, John Wiley & Sons, 2003
Insurance: From Underwriting to Derivatives, Eric Briys & François de Varenne, John Wiley & Sons, 2001