The Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation conveys an insurance professional’s expertise in one of seven different insurance topic areas. It’s a valuable certification if you are an agent, sales manager or work with insurance agents often. Here’s how to get a CIC certification, how it differs from other certifications and how to know if it’s the right move for your career.
Becoming a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC)
The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research offers the CIC certification. You have to complete five of seven courses in order to receive the certification, but it’s your choice which ones you complete. Four of the five courses must be CIC courses. However, your fifth course can be either a Certified Risk Manager (CRM) or Certified Personal Risk Manager (CPRM) course. This fifth course can also count toward a CRM or CPRM certification. You’ll need to pass all five exams within five years, but you can take them online or in person. Each course will teach you everything you need to know for the exam that follows it.
Each course lasts two and a half days and costs between $420 and $475. At the end of the course, you have the option to take the two-hour final exam. Each exam is a proctored, closed book, written essay exam. The National Alliance does not charge any additional fees for you to take the exam after each course. Insurance professionals can maintain their CIC certification by completing an annual course (without an exam).
As mentioned earlier, each insurance professional is required to pass five of seven courses and exams. Below are the seven from which you can choose.
1. Personal Lines
The Personal Lines course focuses on the Property Casualty insurance industry. Topics covered relate to Personal Auto and Personal Residential, including policy coverages, exclusions and limitations. The course also teaches how to respond in the event of a loss through Personal Umbrella or Excess Policies examples.
2. Commercial Casualty
This course focuses on giving students a detailed understanding of the coverage, exclusions and limitations of the Business Auto Policy (BAP), the Commercial General Liability Policy (CGL), and the Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability Insurance Policy (WC & EL Policy).
3. Commercial Property
The Commercial Property course teaches students about Commercial Property coverages and endorsements. Students will learn how to maximize coverage and protect property accounts.
4. Life and Health
This course teaches practical information related to Life and Annuity Policies, Health Insurance, Business Life Concepts and Employee Benefits.
5. Agency Management
The CIC Agency Management course teaches students how to apply management theories, methods and procedures that are necessary for operating a successful insurance agency. At the end of the class, students should be able to implement strategies designed to increase agency profitability.
6. Commercial Multiline
This course teaches students how to identify Commercial Inland Marine, Crime, Cyber and Employment Practices exposures. The course will also help them learn about the types of coverage available to address those exposures as they develop insurance programs for their clients.
7. Insurance Company Operations
This course teaches decision-making strategies for the purpose of meeting compliance standards, product development, underwriting, processing claims, distributing and marketing, and other vital company functions, while satisfying regulatory requirements.
How Important Is the Certification?
The CIC designation is well recognized in the insurance industry. If you are an agent, sales manager or someone who works with agents a lot, CIC will teach you what you need to know. This certification will also give you practical experience in terms of how insurance agencies actually operate. If you are an insurance agent, it’s a valuable designation.
Other Insurance Certifications
Beyond the CIC, there are several other certifications that insurance professionals may want to consider.
Accredited Adviser in Insurance (AAI)
You have to take three classes in order to earn the AAI designation: Foundations of Insurance Production, Multiple-Lines Insurance Production and Agency Operations and Sales Management. You can take it as a self-study program via printed textbooks and course guides, though it’s also offered in a seminar format by certain state insurance associations. The AAI designation focuses on in-depth insurance product knowledge and customer service skills. It’s recommended that insurance agents, brokers, agency principals, producers, account managers and customer service representatives take this course. There is no annual update required to maintain the certification.
Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU)
Like the CIC, this is a highly respected certification in the insurance industry. However, this specifically focuses on the property and casualty insurance arena. Unlike the CIC, you have to have at least two years of acceptable experience in the insurance industry to enter the program for certification. The CIC focuses more on the practical application of insurance principles, while the CPCU takes a more theoretical approach.
To get the CPCU designation, you have to take four foundational courses, an elective class and three classes that focus on commercial or personal lines of coverage. You also have to pass the Ethical Guidelines for Insurance exam or finish the Foundations of Risk Management, Insurance and Professionalism material. CPCU also has an optional continuing professional development program.
Certified Leadership Professional (CLP)
The CLP is a learning program that develops leadership skills for personal growth and professional advancement for insurance experts. The material you need to learn to get this designation is designed to improve your mentoring, management and motivational skills. To earn the designation, you’ll need to complete four modules that cover 17 different topics.
To receive credit for each CLP course, you’ll need to purchase a Student or Self-Study course guide. Then, you’ll need to complete each course by yourself or in an instructor-led environment. You have to pass a 10-question, online quiz with a score of 80 or higher. When you complete all the courses, you can apply for the CLP designation. You can renew your CLP certification by sending in an application every two years.
The Bottom Line
The CIC is a highly respected certification that demonstrates when an insurance agent has practical, real-world education. It is one of the insurance industry’s most prized designations and can help professionals earn a higher income. It also can help prove to clients that the agent is a trusted advisor since the agent is required to take an annual course to maintain their certification. If you’re considering the CIC, do your research to make sure it’s right move for your future in the insurance industry.
- Signing up for life insurance can be confusing if you’re not sure how much you coverage you need. An insurance agent can help you find the right coverage for you and your lifestyle.
- A financial advisor may also be able to help connect you to the right types of insurance. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/greenleaf123, ©iStock.com/:fizkes, ©iStock.com/PeopleImages