Designations denote expertise in insurance services

Janet Arrowood

When insurance professionals complete the process for property and casualty licenses, their knowledge remains limited. Their training consists of what’s needed to pass the licensing exams, not the nuts and bolts of the variety of products in the commercial and personal lines of insurance. 

Details about business owner, fleet and workers’ compensation insurance aren’t part of the licensing process. Those lines of insurance — and many other lines — are learned in one of three ways: on-the-job training, earning professional designations or trial and error. This column will explore the first two learning approaches and what they could mean for your business. 

On-the-job training combined with mentoring and in-house training is the main way many new insurance professionals build on the limited information gained while studying for their property and casualty insurance licenses. A new professional often will be teamed with an experienced advisor to learn the ropes. This arrangement usually involves joint sales calls and marketing, counseling in the process of product selection, assistance with the insurance application process and post-client-meeting discussions. This mentoring approach has the downside of potentially omitting information about products with which the mentor is unfamiliar or doesn’t favor. 

To counter these limitations and build up the newer advisor’s knowledge base, the next step is professional education courses. These courses lead to a number of industry recognized designations that are very beneficial to you, the client. They include:

Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC): This designation covers all areas of insurance – personal, commercial and life. The course of study includes agency management, commercial casualty, commercial property, life, health  and personal insurance. Only about 32,000 insurance professionals have earned the CIC designation, making it rather prestigious.

Certified Risk Manager (CRM): This designation requires more than 120 hours of study and completing five advanced courses. The CRM specializes in avoiding, reducing and eliminating risk. A CRM can help you analyze your business operations and determine where the greatest risks lie. A CRM offers in-depth knowledge of insurance terminology, enabling them to read through your policies and understand exactly what is and isn’t covered.

Certified Workers’ Compensation Advisor (CWCA): With a few exceptions, most businesses in Colorado are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Yet, many business owners don’t understand the value and limitations of workers’ comp. Advisors who’ve earned the CWCA designation are well-versed in the process of purchasing and understanding workers’ compensation insurance. Since workers’ compensation insurance can constitute a large expense, a CWCA knows about ways to help you lower premiums. A CWCA can help you prepare for and conduct premium audits, establish an effective safety committee, perform timely claims management and provide human resources advice to help lower workers’ compensation costs.

Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist (CWCS): The CWCS manages commercial accounts and offers expertise in workers’ compensation insurance. They have expertise working with experience modifiers, audits and claims management.  

Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR): This designation is for service representatives who manage commercial, life and personal accounts. This designation reflects a comprehensive understanding of a company’s risk areas.

What are some of the benefits of working with a professional with one or more of these designations?

They offer a greater understanding about what can and, at some point, will go wrong with your insurance program.

They have a greater depth of experience with and understanding of the ins and outs of the insurance industry and how insurance companies work.

 They have access to a network of peers who can help them guide you when working on difficult insurance matters or complicated claims.

 They’ve shown a willingness to keep learning and spend their limited time ensuring they have in-depth and current knowledge.