Want to be a Nerd Like Me?
I have been asked many times about continuing education in the insurance industry. I am sure it has to do with the alphabet soup I have added to the end of my name on my signature and business cards and the fact that I am a regular in any kind of classroom or webinar setting obtaining CE credits that aren’t even a mandate. We all have a different reason or a different motivation why we take class and obtain designations. I am going to use the dreaded word of being REQUIRED. It’s like even if you wanted to that fact that you are required makes it miserable, right? Then there are some of us like myself who like to sign up for EVERYTHING! Whatever your reason motivation is going to have to come from within and be ready to put in some time and maybe lose a little sleep but know that the end of the day it is oh so rewarding!
There are many tracks to follow and there are options for many different fields even among the insurance industry. I wouldn’t recommend all of the same classes for an auditor or claims representative necessarily. My background is underwriting which can morph and be helpful to know a little about everything so those people I would say the world is your oyster. Learn anything that seems interesting to you! You never know when a conversation will come up or a risk will present itself that you can tap in to that knowledge. I learn something new daily that is why I love this industry.
Now how can you draw a path that will help you increase your knowledge, make you better at your job, and hold your own in tough conversations? That’s up to you and I think you have to use a mix of these resources to really get the full benefits. I have utilized 3 different organizations for my book learning and designations: The National Institutes, The SCIC, and IRMI. I have also been the first to complete a designation that my company put together for their associates in how they want their associates to master skills. You want to utilize these 3rd party organizations that are set up for continuing education and you want to participate in your own company’s. Last but not least become involved and in local associations that are put together for your own industry or even a niche industry that you are working with as the insurance professional. Not only will you learn individualized information but these platforms will bring you together with like- minded people or others who are in the same specialty opening up doors for mentors and connections that go way beyond what you learn in the books.
First up the Institutes. The Institutes offers many different designations for the insurance professional. I have earned quite a few and I will give a little snippet on why I thought those were worthy of my time. They have even added one that seems interesting that I may revisit in the future called the Associate in Insurance Data Analytics. You will notice my designations were geared toward what I was working in. There are specific designations for those in the Claims or Audit or others. Check out their site for the full list!
AINS- Associate in Underwriting- this is the most basic and like the 100 level of insurance. I believe this is valuable to anyone who is going to work day in and day out in the industry no matter their department.
AU- Associate in Underwriting was more specific to underwriting.
AIS- Associate in Insurance Services this was a small test that went over the basic customer service aspects of the industry.
AIM- Associate in Management this is great for anyone working toward management. That is where I thought I was going but a good example of you never know where life will take you.
ARM- Associate in Risk Management was a great designation for underwriting, loss control, claims, anyone who tries to understand how to go through the risk management process.
CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter)- The mecca of insurance designations in my line. This designation requires 8 classes to be completed. You can choose the Personal Lines or Commercial Lines track. I chose the CL track.
Next up, SCIS. This is the organization that administers the CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) designation. More geared toward the agent side of the business but still worthwhile for any professional who is interpreting, selling, or having discussions about coverages and coverage forms. This designation requires you to take 5 classes out of 7 offered that are made up of 16 hours of instruction and a final exam that is short answer usually 18-20 questions. Their schedule is usually set out a year to two years ahead of time so you can filter where in person classes will be offered near you. They also offer Online options. Other certifications they offer are Certified Insurance Service Representative, Certified Risk Managers, Certified School Risk Managers, and Certified Personal Risk Managers as well as other more in depth training such as the JK Ruble Seminars (all on my bucket list of course). I am currently finishing my CIC as I write this!
Third, IRMI International Risk Management Institute, Inc. IRMI has tons of information and a few sector specific designations that you can complete on your own online. I have taken and achieved my Construction Risk & Insurance Specialist designation. I also obtained the Registered Workers Comp specialist through them as well but looking at their site I am not finding that available. I took these two since I was a specialist for those niches/lines as an underwriter. Looking at what they offer now if I was still on the desk underwriting I believe I would have looked into the TRIP Transportation Risk and Insurance Professional designation (as an auto specialist). I don’t think you have to be a specialist to take any of these, just have a zest to learn and train your mind to specialize more on a certain type of risk.
Specific company career path and continuing education. Whether you are working for a carrier who has the resources to put on classes in the office or an agency that utilizes carrier’s producer schools or what most larger companies do offer continuing education to their employees and their agents. Some have libraries that you can utilize building skills on your own, some have actual schools for new producers, some will come out and teach a class to your staff. As a contractors specialist I put together a class on risk transfer and went to a few agencies to present as a lunch and learn to the staff. We sweetened the deal with lunch of course!
Last but certainly not least, industry or trade associations offer RICH resources and opportunities for anyone in any walk of the industry to gain valuable knowledge and to make incredible connections. Ever heard the saying it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? Well there is definitely a truth in that in business world. Who am I kidding it is vital amongst the PTA for our kids’ schools. Learning to make connections and small talk is actually a skill that is not easy for everyone. These events are essentially practicing and learning as well! I would have to add in another way to keep in touch and connected would be to do things on your own by reading trade or industry publications, articles online or connecting on various social media platforms where the wealth of knowledge shared is invaluable.
I am definitely not done in my pursuit of educating myself, not now, not ever. I do know I have found the perfect industry for my ever wandering brain to never run out of things to learn and people to meet! You are your greatest asset! Fill yourself with knowledge!
Any questions never hesitate to reach out to me!