Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF® | Reviewed by Editorial Team

Updated on December 28, 2022

What Is a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)?

A Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) is a financial professional who understands the life insurance market and the underwriting process well. The American College of Financial Services grants such a title.

A CLU credential exempts a practitioner from most states' pre-licensing coursework and underwriting certification requirements. 

CLU has attained life insurance knowledge that exceeds general and basic life insurance underwriting standards.

The certification provides advisers with in-depth knowledge of the life insurance industry's underwriting procedure, life insurance law, and general risk assessment guidelines. 

What Do Chartered Life Underwriters Do?

The CLU certification equips professionals with the fundamentals of life insurance to the complexities of underwriting, allowing them to perform the following services:

  • Advise on the different types of life insurance and annuity
  • Assist clients with risk management challenges, such as risks linked with resources, liabilities, property, and financial wealth in life insurance underwriting
  • Accounting services for the legal components of life insurance underwriting, such as basic contract law concepts, ownership rights, creditor rights, beneficiary designations, proceeds disposition, casualty insurance, and more
  • Guide clients through estate planning decisions, such as wills and trust agreements
  • Provide advice to small businesses on a variety of issues, such as tax and legal elements of business organization, succession planning, transferring a family business, lifelong disposition of business investment, and more
  • Provide help in specialist areas of life insurance underwriting of your choosing, with possibilities including financial planning, income taxation, retirement planning, investments, and working with people with disabilities and families caring for loved ones with special needs

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Chartered Life Underwriter Qualifications and Training Requirements

Before becoming a CLU, a professional must meet specific educational and experience requirements:

Education

A total of eight college-level courses, three electives, and five courses, including topics on individual life insurance, life insurance law, planning for business owners and professionals, fundamentals of estate planning, and insurance planning, must be completed by aspiring CLUs.

Topics on investments, retirement planning, group benefits, and income taxation can be taken as electives. These courses are on Personal Pathway and available as digital content via webinars, interactive lectures, discussion forums, and educator engagement.

Experience 

Within five years before getting the certification, CLU candidates should have at least three years of professional experience in the insurance field. 

A college and graduate degree from a recognized institution can account for one year of professional experience.

Part-time experience is translated to hourly credits, and 2,000 credits represent one year of experience.

Examination

CLU applicants must pass eight tests, which The American College often conducts through the Pearson VUE network of testing centers.

Each test focuses on one of the five mandatory courses or the three electives. It lasts for 2 hours and contains 100 questions. A minimum score of 70% is required on all tests to pass.

Continuing Education

Maintaining a CLU certification requires completing 30 credit hours of continuing education every two years. These credits must come from approved providers by The American College and must include one hour of ethics course.

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Cost of Becoming a Chartered Life Underwriter

The process of becoming a CLU requires some financial resources. Tuition covers all CLU course prices, including all the necessary study materials, access to online learning resources, assessment, and shipping fees.

A single course costs $850, but rates are also available for 3-course ($2,260), 4-course ($2,900), and 5-course packages ($3,500).

Pre-recorded webinars for compulsory CLU courses HS 323, HS 324, and HS 331 are provided at no extra cost.

Some coursework from other certifications, for example, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), can be transferred over.

Why Hire a Chartered Life Underwriter?

Chartered Life Underwriters are essential in helping individuals build their financial security. They offer a variety of insurance solutions that protect their client’s assets and provide them with peace of mind.

Obtain a Good Deal on Life Insurance

CLUs have an insider's knowledge of the life insurance industry, allowing them to negotiate the best rates on behalf of their clients.

A Business Owner Providing Insurance to Employees

As a business owner, you have particular life insurance needs that most people do not. A CLU can educate you on all you need to know to decide which policies to buy for yourself and your employees. 

They may also advise you on legally organizing a firm, planning succession, transferring a family business, and other matters.

Improve Real Estate Value

A CLU may be a smart consideration because they are well-versed in estate planning. They can assist in preserving your current assets and achieving financial security during your retirement years.

The Bottom Line

The designation Chartered Life Underwriter is granted to financial professionals with expertise in the life insurance market and underwriting process. CLUs use their advanced skills to help their clients reach greater financial security through life insurance and annuities. 

They choose the right policy for each client by matching their situation with the available life insurance options and getting the best rates to ensure that their finances are preserved and will continue accumulating financial growth. 

Becoming a CLU requires years of experience in the insurance field, completing courses that cost $850 each from The American College, and passing a series of tests.

Additionally, they must complete continuing education every two years to maintain their certification.

Chartered Life Underwriters are crucial in assisting individuals in preserving their financial security. They provide insurance options that safeguard their client's assets and offer them a sense of assurance.

Chartered Life Underwriter FAQs

What is a Chartered Life Underwriter?

A Chartered Life Underwriter is a finance professional who specializes in life insurance and the underwriting process. They help individuals design and maintain their financial security through customized insurance policies that fit the client's needs.

How long does it take to complete the Chartered Life Underwriter program?

Applicants should anticipate spending 50 to 70 hours of study per course. The program is completed at the candidate's own pace. However, most students complete the curriculum between 15 and 24 months.

How do you earn a Chartered Life Underwriter certification?

To become a Chartered Life Underwriter, you need to have at least three years of experience in the insurance field. You then must complete courses offered by The American College and pass exams. Once certified, you must participate in continuing education every two years to maintain your certification.

Is Chartered Life Underwriter a good designation?

The Chartered Life Underwriter designation is a well-respected title in the insurance field. It indicates that you have specialized knowledge and expertise in life insurance and annuities. It can provide clients with the best possible policy to fit their needs. Additionally, it shows that you are committed to maintaining your proficiency by completing continuing education every two years. This is a significant designation and can help you secure more clients and higher pay.

Is the Chartered Life Underwriter exam hard?

The Chartered Life Underwriter exam requires extensive knowledge of the insurance field. The exam covers various topics, including insurance products, financial, and estate planning. To pass the exam, you need a thorough understanding of life insurance principles and regulations.

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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