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What Does a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Do?

Eric Reed
What is a CPCU?

Almost no one will know what it means if your business card has a “CPCU” after your name. The “almost” is key here though. Almost no one will understand what CPCU means, but your colleagues will. Future employers will. Business partners and (if lucky enough) investors in any firm you open will. The chartered property casualty underwriter (CPCU) certification is a mouthful, but it’s a big deal in the insurance world. Here’s why.

What Is A Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter?

The CPCU is a certification offered by The Institutes. It is a credential for the insurance industry focused on professionals who work in claims, risk management, risk assessment, insurance litigation, insurance at an executive level or a related field. These are the most likely individuals to pursue a CPCU.

A CPCU certification trains someone in advanced issues related to insurance. It covers a relatively wide range of topics including, but not limited to:

  • Risk management;
  • Insurance operations;
  • Liability and insurance law;
  • Industry-specific finance;
  • And personal and commercial insurance.

Professionals get this credential to show both their expertise in the insurance field and their commitment. Due to the requirements, someone with a CPCU designation must have significant experience and knowledge in order pass the required classes.

What Are The Requirements of a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter?

What is a CPCU?

Compared to many professional credentials, the CPCU is a relatively demanding.

A professional earning this certificate must have first worked for at least two to three years in the insurance industry. They then must complete the course requirements of this program. This includes the four required foundational courses of:

  • Insurance operations.
  • Foundations of risk management and insurance.
  • Business law for insurance professionals.
  • Finance and accounting for insurance professionals.

The candidate must then complete four additional courses based on their chosen line of study. Those courses can focus on either personal or commercial insurance. They must complete an ethics course and agree to abide by the CPCU Code of Professional Conduct.

The Institutes enforces this code of conduct, and professionals who break it can have their certification rescinded.

CPCU Cost

The cost of the CPCU designation can vary depending on what study materials you use. Each exam costs $370, which brings total registration fees close to $3,000. However, study materials can range between $150 to $450 per exam, nearly doubling the cost of taking the exam.

However, there are several ways to mitigate the cost of the exams. Early registration can knock as much as $70 off the cost of each exam. The Institutes, meanwhile, offer a CPCU scholarship that can cut $4,000 off the cost of exams and exam prep. If you have taken certain college courses or completed specific degrees, you’re eligible to have some of the CPCU exam requirements waived.

Perhaps the best option, though, is to have the cost of exams reimbursed by employers. Talking to a manager or employer about having them pick up the costs of the exam should be a first step. Should that fail, consider other options like renting study materials or buying them used.

What Can a CPCU Do?

This credential does not confer unusual or special authority on the holder. This credential entitles you to join the CPCU Society, a professional network run by The Institutes which may have some career benefits. However on its own this is not a form of licensure in any way.

Instead, it is a mark or professional skill and accomplishment. It indicates someone who has the experience, knowledge and commitment necessary to have earned one of the most demanding credentials in the insurance industry.

As noted up top, few (if any) consumers understand what this certificate means. However it is extremely well regarded within the insurance industry. Professionals recognize and respect the CPCU. As a result, the main benefit of this designation is as a way of advancing your career internally.

Bottom Line

No, the layman won’t know what it means if your business card has a “CPCU” after your name. In fact, one insurance company found that precisely none of its customers understood the various credentials of people within the profession.

However, many employers will recognize the skill and dedication attached to that acronym. They’ll know what it says about your tenure in the industry and the hours you’ve dedicated to the exams and exam preparation. If you’re lucky, they’ll even cover the costs of those exams just to have another member of their team with that designation.

Insurance Tips

What is a CPCU?
  • Where does insurance fit into your financial plan? An advisor may know. 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 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you’re looking for a new insurance company, a CPCU certificate should carry a lot of weight. While this isn’t a credential familiar to most consumers, it marks someone who can help you answer the tough questions like how much life insurance you might need.
  • Career boosts can be a challenge, which is why SmartAsset writes about it. For insurance professionals a CPCU can be one of the best credentials you can pursue, if not the very best, for professional advancement and a higher salary.

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