Top Insurance Certifications to Advance Your Career

Updated August 24, 2023

As an insurance professional, commitment to career growth can help you improve the quality of service you deliver to your clients. One way to grow in your career is by pursuing insurance designations that teach you the industry's nuances and provide you with valuable skills. Learning about these designations can aid your decision about which to pursue. In this article, we define an insurance certification, explore reasons they're beneficial, highlight the steps to take to pursue these certifications, list seven insurance designations you may consider obtaining, and add four other useful designations.

Related: Is Property Casualty Insurers a Good Career Path? (Plus Jobs List)

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What is an insurance certification?

An insurance certification is a designation for insurance professionals that show their completion of advanced education and training in a specialty area. Obtaining an insurance designation typically involves completing specific insurance courses and passing certain insurance exams. Some may also require you to complete initial education courses and maintain full-time employment for a particular duration. Completing insurance courses in some accredited institutions qualifies you for licensing, depending on the provincial and territorial regulations.

Why consider getting an insurance certification

It's important to pursue career growth to develop personally and improve the quality of service you deliver to your clients. Obtaining a designation in an insurance field indicates your motivation and commitment to development. It enables clients to know that you're an expert in your area or working on the steps to gaining the credential. Clients may also recommend you to others, which can increase your reputation and value and broaden your customer base.

The insurance industry is an ever-changing one. The courses you complete toward obtaining your designation can teach you the nuances of risks and litigation and help you best serve your clients.

Related: How to Become an Independent Insurance Agent (With Steps)

How to get an insurance certification

You may follow the steps below to understand how to get an insurance certification:

1. Know the issuing organizations

Many insurance institutions exist in the country, providing certification programs across various fields, but below are the most common:

  • Insurance Institute of Canada (IIC): IIC sets the professional standards for the insurance industry through programs that lead to a variety of designations and certificates. Their designations are popular, and they cover all aspects of insurance, including underwriting, brokering, and claims adjusting.

  • Advocis, The Financial Advisors Association of Canada (TFAAC): TFAAC is popular in the financial services industry for developing effective solutions in the areas of risk management and wealth creation. It has a subsidiary, the institute for advanced financial education, which is a credentialing body for designations that relate to financial planning and advisory.

  • Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC): An organization of 11 member associations that advocates on behalf of insurance brokers and consumers, IBAC provides courses that promote the broker profession and a sustainable broker distribution channel.

2. Choose a specialty

Insurance covers different fields and areas from where you may obtain a designation. More common areas are life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, credit and loan insurance, and disability insurance. Some less common areas include marine insurance, flood insurance, and employee compensation. You may choose one of these areas and find an institute or organization that provides certification or designation to enrol.

Related: How to Become an Insurance Appraiser (With Duties and Skills)

3. Know the required specification

Some institutes may first ask you to meet specific criteria to qualify for the program that ultimately rewards you with a designation. Some may want you to complete fundamental programs before starting the main courses, while others want you to pass specific exams or pay fees. Understand what your chosen designation requires and make adequate preparation for it.

4. Complete the required courses

Many certification programs involve completing at least one course on core knowledge and skills essential for your industry. Taking one course allows you to balance your personal life with your full-time insurance jobs or other commitments you may have. Others may require you to complete five to ten courses based on the different areas of insurance they cover and the extent of the designation. Programs with five to ten courses may have applied and elective courses. These courses help you learn the details to prepare you for your certification exam and equip you with helpful industry knowledge.

5. Pass the necessary exams

Some certification programs offer courses in various formats, including in-class learning and virtual classrooms. You typically complete classes in any of these formats, and you proceed to write exams after completing your course topics. Passing this exam is a crucial step to eventually obtaining your required designation.

Read more: How to Become an Insurance Broker (With Steps and FAQs)

Insurance certifications to consider

You have an inexhaustible list of certifications to choose from, depending on your field, but you may consider starting with these seven due to their popularity:

Chartered Insurance Professional

The Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) covers all areas of property and casualty insura nce (P&C), including life, personal, and commercial. Obtaining this designation requires completing 10 courses while passing their exams. The program generally has three terms, which are the fall, winter, and spring terms, and each has its exam period at the end of the term. Besides passing the exams, obtaining a CIP also requires at least one year of full-time professional experience in the insurance industry. The Insurance Institute of Canada administers this designation to reinsurers, underwriters, and brokers in the insurance industry.

Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional

The Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional (FCIP) is a continuation of the CIP and contains six additional courses in property and casualty insurance. Its admission requirements also differ depending on whether you follow the Advanced Chartered Insurance Professional (ACIP) route or the regular route. Both routes require a CIP designation and proof of current membership in your local insurance institute and the CIP society. The difference between them is that the ACIP route requires at least five years of P&C insurance work experience, while the regular route instead requires a university undergraduate degree.

Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker

The Canadian Accredited Broker (CAIB) is a designation that you receive from the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada after completing the CAIB program. This program consists of four topics that cover all aspects of P&C insurance. Completing this program qualifies you for licensing in some provinces, so you may check the association's website to see the eligible provinces. The IBAC requires you to be a member to use this certification, but you may still receive it as a non-member while you work on getting your license and becoming a member.

Canadian Professional Insurance Broker

The Canadian Professional Insurance Broker (CPIB) is another designation that the IBAC offers to brokers who have obtained the CAIB or the CIP designations. Similar to the CAIB certification, usage of the CPIB is peculiar to licensed P&C brokers alone who maintain membership with the IBAC. To qualify for the program, the IBAC requires you to be an employee of a brokerage who is a member of a provincial broker association when registering for the examinations. It consists of six main courses, where three are insurance specific, and three are electives that recognized universities or colleges offer.

Accredited Mortgage Professional of Canada

Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) offers the Accredited Mortgage Professionals of Canada (AMPC) designation. The entire program takes approximately 40 hours to complete and contains educational materials that relate to underwriting practices, real estate transactions, specialized mortgages, and ethics in the industry. After completing the mandatory courses, you become eligible to write the exams, which typically are three hours in length and comprise multiple-choice questions. Passing the exam requires obtaining at least 75% of the total score. The AMPC is available to both brokers and non-brokers, and you may visit the association's website to determine the one for which you're eligible.

Certified Residential Underwriter

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) offers the Certified Residential Underwriter (CRU) designation, which is a multi-levelled underwriting certification. The program contains a curriculum that can help you excel in residential mortgage underwriting and develop skills to increase productivity, reduce error rates, and make quicker decisions. You can keep your certification relevant by earning points for continuing your education.

Chartered Life Underwriter

The Institute for Advanced Financial Education offers Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation. Courses in this program contain topics such as risk management, wealth creation and preservation, estate planning, and wealth transfer. To become eligible for this program, you require four years of experience in the financial industry. You also require completing the four-course Advocis Financial Planning Fundamental Program.

Related: How to Become an Underwriter (With Salary and Skills)

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Additional insurance designations

Instead of or in addition to a certification, you can pursue other professional development opportunities to prepare you with essential skills and improve your employability. Here are four other insurance-related designations you may consider:

  • Canadian Certified Insurance Broker

  • Certified Health Insurance Specialist

  • Professional Financial Advisor

  • Certified Financial Planner

Please note that none of the companies, organizations, or institutions mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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