The CPCU® Designation
The CPCU® or Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation is the premier designation in the property casualty insurance industry. This insurance designation is held by only about 4% of the insurance industry and covers a wide array of insurance topics including property insurance, auto insurance, liability insurance, insurance law, risk management and personal insurance operations.
CPCU® designation holders gain the necessary skills and experience needed to quickly move into management positions and often see an immediate career improvement and salary increase. According to a study by the CPCU® Society, 75% of survey respondents reported that the CPCU® led to a salary increase, with about half of their salaries increased by as much as 15%.
Who Should Pursue The CPCU®
This unique designation should be pursued by those interested in entering the property casualty field and by those currently employed in the property casualty industry who would like to advance their current knowledge and improve upon their current career position. Although I recommend these courses should be pursued by everyone in the insurance industry, the designation is most popular for underwriters, agents, brokers, adjusters, claims managers, risk managers and business analysts. The CPCU® designation is highly respected in the insurance world and can help anyone in the property-casualty field gain the necessary skills and experience to reach that next level of employment while at the same time helping to build a more knowledgeable insurance industry.
How to Earn the CPCU® Designation
The CPCU® designation is achieved after the completion of a series of eight exams and an ethics requirement course. The exams include: four foundation courses, three personal lines or commercial lines courses, and one elective course. The sequence in which these exams are taken does not matter, the individual may choose the exam order depending on their interests or background.
These courses cover a wide array of topics and advanced subjects used in our day to day jobs such as risk management, underwriting, loss exposure analysis, property-casualty insurance, coverage options, insurance law, managing insurance operations and much more.
These courses are required for both the Personal and Commercial CPCU®
Personal Lines Courses
These three courses are required for the personal lines CPCU®
Commercial Lines Courses
These three courses are required for the commercial lines CPCU®
Only one elective course is required. There is a wide array of courses that count as an elective credit including:
- AIC™ 300
- AIDA™ 181
- ARe™ 321
- AU™ 60
- Cyber 301
Alternative Path: ARM™ to CPCU®
This is a new way to earn both the ARM™ and CPCU® designations. It’s called the ARM™ to CPCU® path.
Then, you just need to pass the two Concentration Courses (CPCU® 555 and CPCU® 556 for personal insurance or CPCU® 551 and CPCU® 552, for commercial) along with an elective course and an ethics course.
Ready to get started? Check out our ARM™ to CPCU® study material bundle to save $900 on your study material (get 3 courses free).
**Please note this is the ‘new’ ARM™ to CPCU® Path announced June 2023**
Core Exams (5 exams):
- ARM™ 400
- ARM™ 401
- ARM™ 402
- CPCU® 530
- CPCU® 540
Concentration Exams (2 exams):
- CPCU® 555
- CPCU® 556
- CPCU® 551
- CPCU® 552
Elective Exams (choose one)
- AIDA™ 181
- CYB™ 301
- AIC™ 300
- AU™ 60
- ARe™ 321
CPCU® Designation Costs
The cost of the CPCU® designation varies widely depending on your choice of study material and exam registration. On average, the CPCU® will cost between $3,500 to $5,000. Each exam costs about $320 and study material ranges between $150 to $400 per exam. It’s pricey, but there are plenty of tips and tricks to reduce the cost of your CPCU® including using college credits, applying for the CPCU® scholarship, and employer reimbursement (most employers will pay for your CPCU®).
Where To Buy CPCU® Study Material
There are a number of great resources across the web that sell CPCU® study material. There is no right or wrong choice; it really depends on your study preference. For a taste of CPCU® study material, check out our free CPCU® courses and free CPCU® practice exams.
How To Sign Up For The CPCU® Exam
The CPCU® designation is administered by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (“The Institutes”). To sign up for your CPCU® exam, you will need to create an account at The Institutes. Here you can choose to take a written exam or you can sign up to take a computer-administered exam at a Prometric testing center.
Please note, AssociatePI is not affiliated with The Institutes. AssociatePI is an independent company that is not endorsed by or otherwise supported or recognized by The Institutes in any way. This blog is intended for informational purposes only, to help you register for your conferment ceremony.
The CPCU® exams are TOUGH. It is no easy task to complete this insurance designation, which is why only the best of the best earn their CPCU®. The industry recommends about 2-3 months of studying per exam and about 2-4 years to complete the coursework to achieve the designation.
Although that’s the industry recommended time, I see most people complete their exams in about a month. If you’re truly dedicated you can crank out your CPCU® within a year. I always recommend that people study an hour a day on lunch break or before work. Just an hour a day for 2-3 weeks should be plenty of time for you to pass your exam.
Be sure to check with your employer before you get started, as most employers will pay for your study material and exams.
Three CPCU® Tips
1) Read the entire online course and focus on the details: This is by far the most important tip. The CPCU® exams are tough, you’ll need to read the entire course and memorize the minor details.
2) Make a study guide: Taking notes and making a personal study guide is a great way to improve your ability to recall information on the exam. Make sure your study guide is short and easy to quickly review; this will help you keep track of those minor details and creates a reference sheet for you to review rather than re-reading the textbook.
3) Practice, practice, practice: Take as many practice exam and quizzes as you possibly can. This will help you familiarize yourself with the CPCU® question format and help you determine which topics you need to re-study. Once you go through a few practice quizzes and exams, return to your notes and review any section that you failed. Here are some practice exams to get you started.
Pursue Your CPCU® Designation Now (3 Reasons Why)
1) Professional development
The number one reason why you should begin pursuing your CPCU® designation right NOW is for personal and professional development. No matter if you’re still in college, just starting to interview for positions, or trying to advance your career internally. The CPCU® designation touches on nearly every property-casualty subject, giving you the practical skills and knowledge required to become a property-casualty subject matter expert.
2) The longer you wait, the harder it gets
There’s no time like the present. Where are you in your career? Are you just graduating college? Have you been in the industry for a few years? Are you already CEO? No matter where you are in your career, the time to start is NOW. The longer you delay, the less likely it is that you will take action. The hardest part is that first step. I recommend forcing yourself to study by signing up for your exam before you begin studying. Purchase your exam and set the date for two months out. This will motivate you to start studying; there’s no excuse when your money is on the line because I highly doubt that you will want to fork over another $330 just to RETAKE the exam.
Each CPCU® is invited to the annual conferment ceremony. The ceremonies are typically held in a nice tropical location. In 2016 the conferment ceremony was held in Hawaii, in 2018 the ceremony was held in San Diego (the 2017 ceremony was planned to be held in Florida but was canceled due to inclement weather). Get started now and you could be hanging in the sun in just one years’ time with your new CPCU® designation. Be sure to check with your employer before purchasing your flight and hotel. Often your employer will cover the expense for you to attend the ceremony once you complete the CPCU®
Free Practice Exam
Ready to get started studying? We’re here to help (for free). Download one of our free CPCU® practice exams to get a feel for the type of content you will be studying.
For more information about the CPCU® designation checkout some of our other free resources:
- CPCU® Designation Overview
- CPCU® Designation Salary
- CPCU® Cost
- CPCU® Exam Pass Rates
- CPCU® Cost Reducing Tips
CPCU® exams are administered by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (“The Institutes”). AssociatePI does not administer the actual exams, we are an independent resource of free content, advice, and study material for professional insurance education. This blog is intended for informational purposes only, to inform prospective students of the benefit of the CPCU® designation.
CPCU® and API™ are trademarks of the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (“The Institutes”). AssociatePI LLC is not affiliated with, associated with, endorsed by or otherwise supported or recognized by The Institutes in any way. AssociatePI LLC is not authorized by The Institutes to offer courses, practice examinations, or any other resources related to the Institutes’ designations or other programs.