Jake Lang is the founder of AssociatePI. He has been through the CPCU and Associate in Personal Insurance process and now focuses on providing enhanced study methods and content to help those preparing for their exams.
What is a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter?
There are a number of worthwhile insurance designations in the property casualty insurance industry to help employees advance their career, but only one that is considered the premier property casualty designation. The CPCU, or Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation, is the most prestigious designation in the property casualty insurance industry, held by only about 4% of all property casualty employees and often referred to as the “CPA of the insurance industry”. This insurance designation covers nearly all property casualty insurance topics, giving CPCU designation holders the advanced insurance knowledge and expertise required to effectively advance their careers in terms of management capability and salary growth.
A survey conducted by PayScale.com noted that out of 173 CPCU designation holders, all 173 rated the CPCU a 5 out of 5 for satisfaction and the majority of insurance brokers holding this designation earn over $100,000 in annual salary
Who should pursue the CPCU?
This unique designation should be pursued by those interested in entering the property casualty field and by those currently employed in the property casualty industry who would like to advance their current knowledge and improve upon their current career position. Although I recommend these courses should be pursued by everyone in the insurance industry, the designation is most popular for underwriters, agents, brokers, claims managers, risk managers and business analysts. The CPCU designation is highly respected in the insurance world and can help anyone in the property casualty field gain the necessary skills and experience to reach that next level of employment while at the same time helping to build a more knowledgeable insurance industry.
How to earn this designation
The CPCU designation is achieved after the completion of a series of eight exams and an ethics requirement course. The exams include: four foundation courses, three personal lines or commercial lines courses and one elective course. The sequence in which theses exams are taken does not matter, the individual may choose the exam order depending on their interests or background.
These courses cover a wide array of topics and advanced subjects used in our day to day jobs such as risk management, underwriting, loss exposure analysis, property-casualty insurance, coverage options, insurance law, managing insurance operations and much more
These courses are required for both the Personal and Commercial CPCU
- CPCU 500: Foundations of risk management and insurance
- CPCU 520: Insurance operations
- CPCU 530: Business law
- CPCU 540: Finance and Accounting
Personal Lines Courses
These three courses are required for the personal lines CPCU
- CPCU 555: Personal risk management and property liability insurance
- CPCU 556: Financial planning
- CPCU 557: Survey of commercial insurance
Commercial Lines Courses
These three courses are required for the commercial lines CPCU
- CPCU 551: Commercial property risk management and insurance
- CPCU 552: Commercial liability risk management and insurance
- CPCU 553: Survey of personal insurance and financial planning
Only one elective course is required. There is a wide array of courses that count as an elective credit including:
- CPCU 560: Financial Services Institutions
- AAI 83: Agency Operations and Sales Management
- AIC 31: Property Claims Practices
- AIC 32: Liability Claims Practices
- ARE 144: Reinsurance Principles and Practices
- ARM 56: Risk Financing
- AU 67: Strategic Underwriting Techniques
- ERM 57: Enterprise-Wide Risk Management: Developing and Implementing
Studying for the exam
The Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter exams are TOUGH. It is no easy task to complete this insurance designation, which is why only the best of the best earn their CPCU. The industry recommends about 2-3 months of studying per exam and about 2-4 years to complete the coursework to achieve the designation.
Although that’s the industry recommended time, I see most people complete their exams in about a month. If you’re truly dedicated you can crank out your CPCU within a year. I always recommend that people study an hour a day on lunch break or before work. Just an hour a day for 2-3 weeks should be plenty of time for you to pass your exam.
Be sure to check with your employer before you get started, as most employers will pay for your study material and exams.
Benefits of continuing insurance education
Continuing insurance education is necessary to continue providing the best insurance service to our customers. In the growing insurance industry it is our job to better ourselves with additional education in order to fully understand every aspect of the insurance product so that we can confidently answer any and every question faced in our day to day lives.
Senior managers highly recommend pursing additional education opportunities and insurance designations. Pursing additional education shows management that you are proactive in advancing your career and capable of handling and balancing a multitude of difficulty tasks.
How a CPCU designation can help your agency
The biggest benefit to earning your CPCU is confidence. Confidence in your insurance operations and confidence that you can guarantee your customers the most knowledgeable insurance advice. The CPCU coursework covers a wide array of all property-casualty topics ensuring that you fully understand all aspects of property-casualty insurance.
In addition to personal confidence, the CPCU insurance designation provides confidence and peace of mind to your customers and stakeholders in knowing that you have put in the time and effort to provide the best insurance service possible.
There is really no downside to pursuing the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation or any of the many insurance designations. Improving your insurance knowledge should be a daily goal of the insurance professional. Not only does it help you personally build a better business and career, but it helps to build a better insurance industry.