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Tips From a CPCU: What I've Learned and How it Applies to Surplus Lines

Tips From a CPCU

Many insurance professionals have letters behind their names indicating a specific designation. Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) is just one of these designations. But does that mean it is for underwriters only? Not at all! Although the title contains the word "underwriter," it is for any insurance professional seeking to advance their career and increase their overall insurance knowledge. The CPCU is a comprehensive overview of every aspect of the insurance industry, and it is beneficial for all insurance professionals – agents, underwriters, risk managers, actuaries, lawyers, claim adjusters, etc.

The CPCU certification course is offered through The Institutes and can be completed online. According to The Institutes, these are just a few of the benefits of the CPCU designation.

What You Walk Away With...

An elevated view of the property-casualty landscape

Plan better for the unanticipated, and know which risk treatment strategies, coverages, or financial planning tools will gain the maximum benefits. A broad understanding of underwriting, claims, and risk control helps you make smart decisions to support your customers' business.

Cutting-edge knowledge and the skills to share it

Because you understand data aggregation, quality, and sourcing, you apply it to make better decisions. With insights on how data and technology are transforming business, you can offer the nuanced recommendations needed to achieve business goals.

Credibility and respect

The CPCU after your name communicates leadership and confidence. From navigating complex policy choices, to determining loss coverage, to proving ROI with knowledge of profitability ratios and interest rate calculations, you understand outcomes and can be trusted with risks.

A global community

Every CPCU becomes part of a vast community of engaged professionals. Together, you can explore new ideas and opportunities, address challenges, and leverage the active CPCU network to enhance your career and build your future."

There are different tracks available to complete the CPCU, depending on your area of interest or concentration. For a complete list of the current CPCU Educational Track, check The Institutes website here.

For my educational journey, I chose the commercial track. The courses included in this emphasis covered a wide range of topics.

  • Ethics and Insurance Contract Analysis

  • Personal insurance and Risk Management

  • Insurance Issues and Professional Ethics

  • Insurance Operations

  • Finance and Accounting for Insurance Professionals

  • Commercial Property Risk Management and Insurance

  • Commercial Liability Risk Management and Insurance

  • Insurance Claim Practices: Property Adjusting, Liability Claim Practices, Workers' Compensation and Medical Aspects of Claims

How all of this applies to Surplus Lines

While the CPCU coursework is an excellent overview of all areas of insurance, it has helped my career in surplus lines compliance in a number of ways.

  • A greater understanding of the history of surplus lines and how it compares to the admitted market. Some of the CPCU courses have dedicated chapters specific to surplus lines and the non-admitted market. The primary starting point for anyone working in the surplus lines industry is learning how surplus lines have developed and how it differs from the admitted market.

  • In-depth knowledge of insurance contracts and policies. Understanding policies, dec pages, forms, and contract language is necessary for surplus lines filing and tax payment. Polices must be reviewed for accuracy before filing in any state. The knowledge gained from understanding the intricacies of all different types of insurance policies and insurance terminology makes surplus lines tax filing seamless.

  • Understanding of accounting and financials. Most surplus lines filing and tax-paying is contained within an accounting department. Reconciling, calculating tax rates, invoicing, budgeting, forecasting--these are all finance terms we deal with daily in surplus lines. Understanding accounting and finance specific to insurance helps it all come together.

  • Understanding the customer's perspective. At InsCipher, we work with clients who have a wide range of backgrounds – agents, CFOs, underwriters, accountants, filers. It is essential to understand their point of view and what they do in their jobs to answer questions and assist in their internal processes. The knowledge gained within the CPCU curriculum about all areas of insurance helps me connect with clients and navigate them through all stages of surplus lines tax filing.

  • Continuing education. Continuing education is necessary to stay on top of changes in regulatory compliance requirements and industry best practices. Additionally, continuing education is required to maintain the CPCU designation. A variety of options are available to accomplish this, from in-person conferences and webinars to online courses. Many of the courses and webinars contain specific surplus lines content. So, while maintaining the designation, I can stay up to date on trends and changes in the surplus lines industry.

Completing the CPCU has benefitted my career, my employer, and my client relationships. Whether you decide to pursue a CPCU or another designation or certification, any continuing education will help expand your knowledge and open up career opportunities within the insurance space.

InsCipher is an insurtech company providing software and services that are revolutionizing inefficient insurance processes. Save your agency time and money by automating surplus lines compliance, filing, and reporting. Want to learn more? Request a free demo today!


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