How will you take your insurance career to the next level?
One way to grow your career and earn an elite designation is to pursue your Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC)Ⓡ, provided by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.
Foresight spoke to The National Alliance as well as our own in-house CIC, VP of Business Development Michael Bibeau to get insider information on how a CIC designation can help you grow your career.
Their answers are compelling. As Bibeau said, “In my opinion, the success I’ve had throughout my career, whether it’s winning an account, being promoted, or serving brokers, has been enhanced by having a CIC.”
A Certified Insurance Counselor designation offers an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of all the working parts of an insurance policy. It’s what some call the gold standard designation offered by the National Alliance. There are only 31,500 CICs, which puts you in an elite group of insurance professionals.
Achieving the CIC takes serious dedication. You put in at least 100 hours of classroom hours either in a classroom or via instructor-led online classes. After each segment, you’ll need to pass five comprehensive exams.
Each CIC topic runs as a two-day course. The current course offering includes:
Once you receive your designation, there are no more exams. However, you do need to complete a yearly update course to keep your designation current.
As a new CIC, you will see real rewards for your hard work. You become part of a community, expand our network, and become part of an elite squad of 31,5000 CICs in the U.S. And of course, you have the knowledge that you need to provide clients with the best service possible.
The CIC is a tough designation and it doesn’t have any minimum professional or educational requirements.
You can start the CIC whenever you want, but The Alliance suggests waiting until you’ve spent two or three years working in insurance. Not only will you find the content more relevant, but you will feel better prepared to tackle the content.
At the same time, The Alliance notes that starting the CIC process looks good to potential employers, so if you are committed to getting started, there’s no reason not to try a course!
Michael Bibeau started his CIC around three years into his career, and he agrees, “It’s not an easy course. However, it is doable and it is worth the effort if you’re committed to the insurance industry.”
If you’re not sure, get in touch with The Alliance to chat with an advisor about the opportunities available to you. They’re full of great information and always happy to help.
The CIC course is demanding, and it’s important that you strategically choose each course for a time when you can dedicate yourself to studying. CIC holders will tell you that if you have outside distractions during those two days, the process becomes even more difficult. So, make sure your calendar is clear and you have time to get in the right headspace to give yourself the best chance of success.
A second great tip is lots and lots of test prep. Unlike many licensure exams, the CIC exam doesn’t offer multiple choice, so there’s no real option to guess if you hit a roadblock. Each CIC test demands critical thinking as you work through scenarios based on what you learned in the class. Be prepared to come up with multiple answers and then parse them based on your learning. And expect to have an explanation for your answer!
The CIC designation is tough going, but the option to put CIC on your business card comes with some tangible benefits for your professional development, your agency, and your commissions.
A CIC designation provides the education and skills needed to send your commissions skyward. According to The National Alliance, pros with a CIC earn more money at an average of 30% more than their counterparts.
Where does that jump in salary come from? Part of it, says Michael Bibeau, comes from your ability to win premier clients, who come with larger policies and thus higher commissions. Both the designation and the skills will help you land accounts, get promoted, and do what’s needed to earn more money.
Career growth and business development go hand-in-hand for brokers, and the CIC designation helps you achieve both. The courses you take will land you more practical skills, teach agency management, and even get you started with a foundation in risk management.
All of these prepare you to be a valuable member of an agency and even prepare you to start your own brokerage.
Your licensing and initial training prepared you with a solid understanding of insurance products, what they do, and what they offer insureds. But it doesn’t provide you with a deep dive into the nuances of an insurance policy
The CIC curriculum spends hours on claims, exclusions, and endorsements. These are the parts of a policy that make it of value (or not) to the insured.
Once you have your CIC, you can renew your CIC and go on for another designation. Michael Bibeau completed his CIC and is using it as a foundation for his Certified Risk Manager (CRM)Ⓡ designation to help clients learn how to build a safety culture and reduce risk across their business.
Errors and omissions are a problem in the industry, and while some of them are unavoidable, the CIC designation helps you eliminate the vast majority of them.
As Bibeau says, “A CIC thinks of things a non-CIC won’t. Their knowledge of the intricacies of a policy means you get an eagle eye and a sharp mind that’s able to think about not only exclusions and endorsements but abstract eventualities.”
Not only does the CIC grant you a sharper eye for policy terms, but the CIC course prepares you to better advocate for clients. You use both your knowledge and the CIC skills to look for holes in coverage and negotiate with the carrier to endorse the right coverage for every client.
When clients get better coverage, they’re more likely to renew every year and come to you for added services and additional coverage.
Want to work with like-minded people? There’s no better place to meet them than on a CIC course. What’s better, your networking doesn’t end when you achieve your designation. You’ll take renewal courses each year and treat it as a refresher as well as learn about hot topics and new trends.
CIC coursework stays up-to-date, which means you also know about what’s happening in other lines of business, even if you don’t sell much of it.
Bibeau notes, “You can bring brokers to lunch, treat them to happy hour, and network with brokers every year you take a course.”
In summary, the CIC has numerous advantages for professionals with several years of experience. While the CIC is among the more challenging insurance designations, it can help you raise your earning ceiling through effective consulting and industry connections.
If you’re still comparing designations, be sure to check out our articles on the MBA, the CPCU, and the PRC. And check out Foresight’s innovative Workers Compensation program, which provides more visibility into your clients’ risk management programs while incentivizing safety.