Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU®)
Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®
Updated on July 10, 2021
What Is The CPCU® (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter) Designation?
The Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) is a widely-used credential in the property and casualty insurance industry.
It is administered by the American Institute of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Inc. (AICPCU), a nonprofit for professionals in the P&C business, also known as The Institutes.
To earn the credential, a candidate must have sufficient work experience, pass foundational courses, choose a specialization, and learn about ethics in the insurance business.
The coursework for the credential covers multiple topics related to all aspects of the insurance industry.
These include risk management, insurance operations and law, insurance finance and financial services etc.
While it is not well-known outside the insurance industry, the CPCU is highly regarded amongst insurers and considered an achievement.
A CPCU designation can help boost the career of an insurance professional working in the property and casualty industry.
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Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter Designation
The main benefit of CPCU is in the breadth of the material covered in its course. Insurance carriers connect with their customers through brokers and agents.
The former are responsible for evaluating and selecting the appropriate insurance plan for their clients while the latter represent insurance companies.
The CPUC course load provides a comprehensive overview of the workings of the insurance industry, both from the agent’s side as well as the broker’s.
In addition to this, the course includes a study of ethics and strategies used in the insurance industry.
Once the candidate has completed core courses, they can focus on specialization along either commercial lines or personal lines.
According to the CPCU website, acquiring the designation results in recognition from management and helps achieve career goals within the industry. Anecdotal evidence seems to back this assessment.
The CPCU designation also admits the holder to the CPCU society, a not-for-profit membership society.
The society provides resources and continuing education opportunities to members and is a networking organization.
It has over 18,000 members, according to its website, who are spread across 150 chapters.
Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter Certification
To be eligible for the CPCU designation, candidates should have approximately two to three years of work experience in the insurance industry and must complete a total of nine courses and pass eight exams conducted by The Institutes.
Four of the courses are foundational courses in emerging risks, insurance operations, insurance law, and corporate finance and accounting that are meant to provide a broad overview of the industry.
After candidates pass the foundational courses, they must select a concentration in either the commercial or personal lines and complete two courses for the line that they have selected.
For example, they should complete the Personal Risk Management and Property-Casualty and Personal Financial Planning courses, if they have opted to concentrate on the personal line.
After this, candidates must complete an elective course related to agency operations and, finally, a course related to ethics.
They are also required to prove two years of work experience in the insurance industry.
Completing the CPCU designation takes approximately two to three years.
CPCU exams are conducted online and at testing centers. According to reports, the cost of each CPCU exam is $370.
Since the designation requires candidates to pass nine courses, the total cost runs to more than $3,000.
Preparation materials are also required for each course and they might cost an average of approximately $300 per course.
The end result is that CPCU becomes a substantial investment for individuals.
A Brief History of CPCU
The American Institute for Property and Liability Underwriter (AIPLU) devised the CPCU designation in 1942.
S.S. Huebner and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania founded AIPLU with the intention of “providing educational programs and professional certification to people engaged in the property and casualty insurance industry.”
Dr. Harry Loman, CEO of AIPLU, was instrumental in promoting CPCU as a certification for insurance professionals working in the industry.
He was also one of the founding members of the Society Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU society) in 1944.
The designation was slow to take off but picked up speed in later years.
By 1948, there were 211 CPUs.
AIPLU and the Insurance Institute of America, which was founded in 1909, joined forces in 1953.
One of the consequences of this merger was a broadening of the designation’s reach.
In 1992, AIPLU was rechristened to American Institute of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Inc. in 1992 and Dr. Loman became the new organization’s first Dean and President.