When the purchasers of insurance-related services are
trying to evaluate the qualifications of insurance
people, it can sometimes get a little confusing trying
to make sense of the alphabet soup one encounters. So
here is a little information about what those various
initials mean, what it takes to get them after your
name, and what one can reasonably conclude about those
(like this writer) who carry some of them around on our
let me start with the two designations I
personally have earned, as these are the two I have
personal experience with:
for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter. This
is one of the best-known professional designations in
the insurance industry, and also one of the more
difficult ones to obtain as it requires successfully
passing ten separate proctored examinations about
insurance coverage, insurance industry operations, as
well as accounting and legal aspects of insurance.
This designation is offered through the American
Institute for CPCU. Additionally, the CPCU
designation requires one to meet certain minimum
requirements for experience in the insurance field, and
to adhere to a code of ethics and meet continuing
I think it would be fair to say that the
CPCU designation is generally viewed as the "gold
standard" within the insurance industry as far as
professional designations go. Some have described
CPCU as being the insurance equivalent of a CPA
designation. Some folks in the insurance industry
have suggested that the letters really stand for "Can't
Produce, Can't Underwrite", but that usually seems to be
a sour grapes complaint by people who haven't made the
effort to obtain the designation. I've known
CPCU's who were brilliant, and I've known CPCU's who
weren't so brilliant--but there is no denying that
having the CPCU designation is a significant objective
benchmark of expertise and experience about insurance.
for Associate in Premium Auditing. This
designation is well known within the insular field of
premium auditing, and less well known by others.
It is administered by the Insurance Institute of America
(a related organization of AICPCU). This
designation requires one to pass a total of four
proctored examinations, two relating specifically to
premium auditing and two others from among the ten CPCU
examinations. Within the premium auditing field,
this one seems to be generally viewed as "the"
professional designation for premium auditors.
Here are some other professional
designations for insurance professionals that this
writer does not personally hold, but has some knowledge
for Certified Insurance Counselor. This is
conferred by the National Alliance for Insurance
Education and Research. This organization has its
roots in the insurance agent community, and has created
the CIC designation as a professional designation for
insurance agent. To attain this designation, one
must attend five courses on insurance related subjects,
and then successfully pass examinations on the contents
of those five courses.*
*we had earlier written that passing the
examinations was optional, but this was in error.
To attain the CIC designation, five examinations of the
course materials must be passed by the applicant.
We regret our earlier error.