The following is based on an article I wrote for an upcoming issue of the CPCU journal, Insights.


My full-time insurance career began in 1973 and I obtained the CPCU designation in 1980. Since that time, I’ve always tried to live by a credo of professionalism. I’d like to share 7 criteria of professional conduct for the insurance and risk management industry and encourage you to habituate these principles and practices.

  1. Always remember the overriding mission of our industry…to protect individuals, families, and organizations from serious and potentially catastrophic loss. Always place the public interest above your own interests. Always.
  2. Seek to become a life-long learner by continually maintaining and improving your professional knowledge at every opportunity. Continuing education is more than accumulating hours prescribed by regulators. Become a self-directed learner. Ask questions. Challenge dogma. Dig deeper.
  3. Make sure that every decision you reach is legal, moral and ethical. It goes without saying that we must strive to obey all laws and regulations, not only to the letter but also within the spirit of the law. Our conduct should always be gauged to avoid any unjust harm to others.
  4. Remain open minded about means and methods of improving the insurance mechanism while being diligent in the performance of your occupational duties. But, in your effort to improve industry efficiency and effectiveness, NEVER forget Habits #1-3 above…always weigh the virtue and value of seemingly innovative approaches and their congruence with our mission to serve the public justly.
  5. More specifically, in conjunction with Habit #3, aspire to go far beyond the minimal legal constraints of our industry by raising the professional and ethical standards of the industry and industries with which we associate. Lead by example. Inculcate Habit #1 into every decision you make. As Mark Twain said, “Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
  6. Involve yourself in local and national insurance society and association activities and in the activities of other industries through your professional efforts. Your goal should be to establish and foster productive and honorable relationships among fellow insurance professionals, members of other professions and industries, and the public.
  7. Whenever possible, assist in every effort and take every opportunity you possibly can to improve the public understanding of insurance and risk management. Combat the deleterious consumer impression that insurance is a commodity and advocate for the value of the counsel of insurance and risk management professionals.

For over 40 years, I’ve done my very best to embrace, abide by, and habituate these guiding principles. By the way, did anything above sound familiar? If you have the CPCU designation, they should. These are taken directly from the first 7 CPCU Canons. This article was a quick read so, in the spirit of Habit #2, take some time and dig deeper by re-reviewing the CPCU Canons if you are a CPCU.

Finally, I’ll close by effectively summarizing the above with something else that should be familiar to CPCUs:

The CPCU Oath

As a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter,

I shall strive at all times to live by the highest standards of professional conduct;

I shall strive to ascertain and understand the needs of others and place their interests above my own;

I shall strive to maintain and uphold a standard of honor and integrity that will reflect credit on my professions and on the CPCU designation.

I hope the rest of your career will be as fulfilling as my last 44 years have been.

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Bill Wilson

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One of the premier insurance educators in America on form, coverage, and technical issues; Founder and director of the Big “I” Virtual University; Retired Assoc. VP of Education and Research from Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Reprint Request Information