Certificate programs for insurance underwriters and agents consist of several core and elective classes culminating in a professional certification or designation. These programs allow agents, underwriters and other insurance professionals to specialize and develop niche expertise. Curriculum sequences are designed and overseen by the individual school or professional group that manages a particular certification.
Most online insurance certificate programs are continuing professional education and require some prior experience in insurance. With a target audience of working professionals, these courses are commonly offered entirely through distance education, using scheduled teleconferences, asynchronous discussion forums, or a combination. Coursework is specific to the designation and rarely transfers to other institutions or credential programs; however, online certificate courses may fulfill state requirements for continuing education to maintain an insurance license. Online insurance certificate and certification programs are available in chartered life underwriting, chartered property casualty underwriting and associate in claims.
Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) Certificate
Chartered life underwriters are concerned with life insurance and health insurance. Offered by The American College, the program trains individuals to calculate insurance risks based on individual or group information. These calculations are used to determine premiums necessary for coverage. Intended as an insurance specialization, the program is designed for individuals already employed in the industry.
Prerequisites include three years of full-time business experience within the five years immediately prior to acceptance. An undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited college may count as one year of experience.
Program Information and Requirements
The program consists of eight classes meeting once a week. Classes each last two hours and are delivered live online by way of webinars or webcasts. Students purchase the appropriate texts. There is no in-person work required. Passing a final examination earns a certificate and certification as a CLU.
Technical requirements include a computer with high-speed Internet access and an updated Web browser. Students also need software to play videos.
This program contains no general education requirements. Of the eight courses that constitute the program, five are required core courses and three are electives.
Insurance Planning Fundamentals
Among the basic topics covered in this course are industry operations, risk management, legal aspects and principles and regulations. Also examined are life insurance, annuities, medical insurance, long-term care and personal property insurance.
With a focus on life insurance policies and annuities, students learn how these apply to various personal needs and financial planning of individuals. Insurance company organization and insurance reserves regulations are also covered.
Individual Health Insurance
This course is an overview and study of how health insurance can be adapted to meet various needs of individuals, families and businesses. Topics addressed include medical expense insurance, disability insurance and long-term health care insurance. Lessons also examine regulations, contracts, policy types and plans.
Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Certificate
The CPCU certificate attests that the graduate has been trained to appraise and assess commercial property and casualty risks. After assessment, the underwriter advises the insurer as to whether or not the client is an acceptable candidate for property and casualty loss insurance, liability insurance and worker's compensation coverage. The program requires candidates for the designation to have a minimum two years of experience in the industry. This requirement may be met before or after completion of the program, as determined on an individual basis.
Program Information and Requirements
The eight courses that make up the program vary in length, depending on the number of classes they contain. The entire program can take upwards of two years to complete. As presented by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, the program combines textbook self study with instructor-led online classes. Communication is accomplished through a discussion board, available 24 hours a day seven days a week. There is no live class discussion. After a final exam, graduates earn a CPCU certificate and certification.
All students need a computer with Internet access and suitable browser and operating systems. Specialized software such as PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat or Excel may be required to participate in different classes. Free downloads of these programs are provided in each class as they are needed.
Five foundation courses are required for the designation. Once completed, individuals must specialize in either the commercial or personal concentration. Three elective are chosen from one concentration or the other.
Insurance Operations, Regulations and Accounting
Topics in this overview course include strategic management, financial management, interpretation of financial statements, liability claims adjustment, ratemaking, marketing, and underwriting. Students learn how the field is regulated and how insurance companies meet sales goals.
Topics in this course include amounts payable in liability and property insurance, policy analysis and insurance law. Classes explain how risks are assessed and insured.
This course in insurance law prepares the individual to mitigate legislative effects and improve legal compliance. Topics include property law, insurance contracts, business entities, employment law, tort law and commercial law.
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Associate in Claims (AIC) Certificate
Presented by the Insurance Institute of America, the AIC designation program prepares the individual to implement ethical policies in handling claims. These policies can help reduce time and expense, avoid lawsuits and improve customer relations. Although there are no specific prerequisites for the program, it's intended as a specialization designation for industry professionals.
Program Information and Requirements
This program of four courses can take about a year to complete, depending on the courses selected. The program can be undertaken entirely as self-study or as a hybrid of self-study and online modules. There is no required in-person component. Passing a final examination earns a certificate and certification as an AIC.
Access to a computer with a reliable Internet connection is needed to take online classes. Lessons may make use of free browser plug-ins such as Flash to display content.
Students have the option of taking one of five paths to obtain the AIC designation. The specializations are personal lines auto and liability, personal lines homeowners, commercial lines liability, commercial lines property or multiple lines. In each of the first four paths, students take three predetermined courses in the AIC designation and one predetermined course in the CPCU designation. In the multiple line path, all courses are in the AIC designation.
Principles of Claim Handling
Topics in this fundamental course include good-faith claim handling, ethics, fraud, negotiations and management of litigation. Students learn to investigate the damages and liability of insurance claims.
Workers Compensation and Bodily Injury
This class centers on injury claims and how they are investigated and compensated. Among subjects covered are the Worker's Compensation System, impairment and disability, treatment and injury evaluation, statutory benefits and medical investigation.
Focusing on the loss adjustment process, students learn to assess causes of loss, residential construction, contractor's equipment, cost estimates, time loss and auto physical damage. Instruction also covers the handling of fraud cases.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics job prospects for insurance underwriters are projected to decline 11% from 2014-2024 due to improvements in underwriting software (www.bls.gov). As of November 2016, PayScale.com determined the median yearly salary for a CLU-certified underwriter with 1-4 years' experience to be $50,376.
The median yearly salary for a CPCU with 1-4 years of experience was found to be $55,655 in a November 2016 PayScale.com survey. Casualty underwriters may work in an insurance company's home office or in regional branches.
PayScale.com found the median yearly salary for a claims adjuster to be $48,155 in October 2016. The BLS expects employment to rise slightly, by 3%, between 2014 and 2024.
Continuing Education Information
Continuing education is mandatory in order to advance in the insurance industry. It is also mandatory in order to obtain and maintain state licensure. Individuals seeking continuing education can take personal development courses with professional organizations or enroll in school programs.
Insurance underwriters must take continuing education in order to maintain licensure. Membership in professional organizations such as the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society affords exposure to training classes, seminars, lectures and industry publications. Advanced academic degrees can also provide opportunities to advance into managerial positions.
Continuing education can be earned through classes and seminars held by professional organizations in addition to formal schooling. Those with an AIC designation can use these resources to fulfill the renewal requirements of their licenses.
To summarize, insurance professionals can boost their careers by earning professional certifications that demonstrate their abilities in particular area of the field. Some of the programs that can be completed online include the Chartered Life Underwriter Certificate, the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter Certificate and the Associate in Claims Certificate.