Chartered Life Underwriter – Definition

Cite this article as:"Chartered Life Underwriter – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated February 2, 2020, last accessed October 20, 2020,


Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) Definition

The term Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) refers to a certification program that acts as an indicator of competence in insurance products. The Chartered Life Underwriter Exam, or CLU Exam, is established and conducted by the American College of Financial Services. The aim of certification is to ensure that practitioners are eligible to provide advice to individuals and business clients on the subject. A chartered life underwriter can also be defined as a credential for financial services and financial practitioners specializing in life insurance and property planning. While many advisors may have experience in property planning, CLUs undergo rigorous training to obtain this designation.

A Little More on What is a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

The qualification of a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) is the oldest existing financial certification. It was created specifically for life insurance brokers in 1927 by the American College for Financial Planning in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and has been carried by insurance practitioners ever since. This credential is what the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) credential for financial advisors is to life agents. Nevertheless, there is one important distinction in that there is no need for a rigorous board exam to obtain the CLU. It may be somewhat easier to achieve in that sense than their counterpart. All life insurance companies, brokers or wholesalers who choose a career in the sale of life-saving products must consider becoming a CLU seriously.

Basics of becoming a CLU

  • CLUs must complete 30 hours of appropriate continuing education work every two years and send it to the American College.
  • CLUs also have to pay a bi-annual $200 renewal fee for their designation and stick to a code of ethics that the American College has laid down, but those who have the ChFC designation can pay a single fee for both.
  • Maintaining the designation requires 30 hours of continous study every year, and a holder’s designation may be revoked through the board of trustees of The American College’s certification committee if there is unethical conduct by the holder.
  • A CLU must adhere to the Code of Ethics of the American College of Financial Services which contains a professional obligation.

The CLU Exam

The exam consists of five main courses at university level and three electives. The entire online course lasts for six to nine months, and every course takes approximately three weeks to complete. The examinations are closed books, as is the case with business courses conducted by approved institutions. When a student fails an exam, they have to wait for at least two working days for an appointment to reschedule resitting the exam in the testing center. Students have to pre-select a three-month window to take the final test for the period from January to March to April to June and July to September to October. In ten days after the exam, students receive a pass/fail grade in their mail.

The CLU Curriculum

Earning the CLU credential is not as difficult as it used to be. It is now slightly easier. The candidate is required to complete the following five core courses in the curriculum:

  • Fundamentals of Insurance Planning
  • Individual Life Insurance
  • Life Insurance Law
  • Fundamentals of Estate Planning

For most cases, each of these courses corresponds to a 3-hour college undergraduate course. Although the Americas College is the original provider of the CLU, other colleges and universities are now providing CFP certification courses that are part of the CLU curriculum.

Candidates will also have to complete three of the seven electives  below:

  • Financial Planning:  Process and Environment
  • Individual Health Insurance
  • Income Taxation
  • Group Benefits
  • Planning for Retirement Needs
  • Investments
  • Estate Planning Applications

Who are CLUs?

  • CLUs are policy experts who have achieved a high level of expertise in life insurance and estate planning, and they can help clients understand the nuances of life insurance, including how much cover clients need and what plans clients should consider.
  • CLUs are specialists in estate planning and risk management, since many of them in some way originate from an insurance background. Such features make the recommendations of chartered life underwriters extremely valuable for individual clients.
  • CLUs are typically familiar with insurance laws and inside and out offers by insurers. This level of expertise is useful to clients as they can be walked through the process of finding an insurance policy that suits their financial and personal needs.

Reference for “Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)”…

Was this article helpful?