What Insurance Designations Mean

Different Designations Indicate a Different Area of Expertise

Nurse and patient in hospital, representing health insurance.

Christopher Furlong / Staff /Getty Images

To illustrate their insurance industry know-how, insurance professionals have numerous insurance designations to choose from depending upon their specific area of expertise. In the coursework to attain these designations, individuals learn insurance industry practices and insurer operations that will serve them well in addressing customer needs.

Top Insurance Certifications

The standard-bearer designations in their respective fields are the RHU, CLU, and the CPCU.

  • Health Insurance: Registered Health Underwriter (RHU)
  • Life Insurance: Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
  • Property Casualty Insurance: Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU)

Holders of these three designations are seen throughout the industry as knowledgeable experts on insurance administration, underwriting, and regulation.

To gain the expertise to successfully serve insurance clients effectively insurance professionals have utilized insurance education programs for decades. The educational programs that encompass these designations serve two important needs.

First, the coursework provides insurance professionals with an in-depth education on insurance industry practices in areas as broad as administration to marketing to underwriting. Second, having achieved these designations illustrates an insurance professional’s expertise in their field to prospective clients.

Health Insurance Designations

Health insurance professionals have a wide variety of designations available to gain knowledge and demonstrate to their clients the breadth of their expertise.

Registered Health Underwriter (RHU)

This is the premier health insurance designation signifying knowledge of all areas of living benefits, including managed care plans; individual and group medical, disability income, long-term care insurance; group dental and voluntary benefit plans. The coursework also reviews the impact of federal legislation such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and others including COBRA, ERISA, and HIPAA.

Coursework: The RHU coursework differs by provider but generally includes the following:

  • Critical Illness and Long-term Care
  • Disability and Group Benefits

How to Obtain: Training centers across the U.S. that offer the RHU coursework include, AB Training Center, Advocis, The American College, Business Career College, and others. Other respected health insurance designations include those available through America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). These are:

  • Long-term care (LTCP- Long-term Care Professional)
  • Disability income insurance (DIA- Disability Income Associate)
  • Employee Health Benefits (EHBA- Employee Health Benefits Associate), and
  • Health Insurance generally (HIA- Health Insurance Associate)

A fast-growing certification is the insurance designation of CLTC. The Certified in Long-Term Care designation is becoming well known due in part to its broad focus on selling long-term care insurance. This designation is available through the Corporation for Long-term Care Certification.

Life Insurance Designations

Professionals within the life insurance industry can choose from a multitude of insurance designations to identify themselves as industry experts to their clients.

Charter Life Underwriter (CLU)

This is the premier life insurance industry designation and encompasses expertise in life and health insurance, investments, taxation, employee benefits, estate planning, accounting, management, and economics. The CLU courses help individuals advance their careers by providing in-depth knowledge on the insurance needs of individuals, business owners, and professional clients.

Coursework: The CLU designation can be earned by completing five required courses and three elective courses among many choices.

How to Obtain: Numerous training programs offer courses to complete the CLU designation including AB Training Center, Advocis, The American College, Business Career College, and others.

Other life insurance certification designations include the Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI) designation which is awarded to individuals who pass a series of 10 national life insurance examinations on insurance, accounting, marketing, information systems, finance, law, management, and computers. This designation is available through the Life Office Management Association (LOMA).

Also, the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation can be earned by completing six courses from the American College. This designation focuses on essential life insurance product knowledge with basic planning concepts so that the LUTCF is aided in boosting their sales production.

Property Casualty Insurance Designations

Property and Casualty insurance industry professionals have many avenues of insurance designations from which to choose to demonstrate their expertise for prospective clients.

Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU)

This is the premier designation in property-casualty insurance. The CPCU program provides a broad understanding of the property-casualty industry focusing on the legal, financial and operational aspects of risk management and insurance.

Coursework: The CPCU program consists of 11 courses. Eight courses must be passed to earn the CPCU designation. There are five foundation courses. In addition, students select either the commercial or personal insurance concentration to complete the program.

How to Obtain: The CPCU designation is offered by the AB Training Center, the Insurance Institute of America (CPCU/IIAA), the Insurance License School, and others. Numerous other designations can be pursued by property-casualty insurance professionals and agents, including:

  • AAI- Accredited Advisor in Insurance offered by the Insurance Institute of America (CPCU/IIAA) stresses the production side of insurance, with study in personal and commercial property and liability sales and agency management.
  • AIC- Associate In Claims also offered by the CPSU IIAA includes educational material covering personal lines and commercial lines property and liability.
  • CIC- Certified Insurance Counselor offered by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research covers important aspects in personal lines, commercial casualty, commercial property, life and health, and agency management.