What is 'Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)'

A chartered life underwriter (CLU) is a professional designation for individuals who wish to specialize in life insurance and estate planning. Individuals must complete five core courses and three elective courses, in addition to successfully passing eight 100-question, two-hour examinations in order to receive the designation. The required course titles include Fundamentals of Insurance Planning, Individual Life Insurance, Life Insurance Law, Fundamentals of Estate Planning and Planning for Business Owners and Professionals. Other course topics include financial planning, health insurance, income taxation, group benefits, investments and retirement planning.

BREAKING DOWN 'Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)'

Financial planners with a CFP designation will often earn the CLU designation to demonstrate their expertise in the areas of life insurance and estate planning. Having additional knowledge in these areas gives financial planners a competitive edge over other planners with fewer credentials. The CLU designation is one of the oldest and most respected credentials in financial services, dating back to the late 1920’s. It represents a thorough understanding of a broad array of personal risk management and life insurance planning issues and stresses ethics, professionalism, and in-depth knowledge in the delivery of financial advice.

A CLU must adhere to The American College of Financial Services’ Code of Ethics, which includes the following professional pledge: “I shall, in light of all conditions surrounding those I serve, which I shall make every conscientious effort to ascertain and understand, render that service which, in the same circumstances, I would apply to myself.”

Maintaining the designation requires 30 hours of continuing education every year, and the designation may be removed for unethical conduct through the certification committee of The American College’s Board of Trustees. The American College is an accredited non-profit educational institution with an 84-year history. It confers the CLU and has the highest level of educational accreditation—regional accreditation—through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The College has a full-time faculty of industry experts and is the leading educator of financial professionals in the United States.

Ways chartered life underwriters help clients

Subject matter areas include:

  • Life insurance
  • Business planning
  • Estate planning

    Financial professionals a holding a CLU designation can average 51 percent greater income than their counterparts because they have the specialized skills to help clients: 

    • Set and reach financial goals by analyzing their financial life and identifying life and health insurance needs as well as personal property and liability risks
    • Achieve financial security through life insurance and annuity products
    • Manage successful businesses with strategic organizational and preventive planning
    • Enhance estate value, conserve existing assets, and provide for financial security during retirement. 


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