Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU Exam)


The term Chartered Life Underwriter refers to a certification program that serves as an indication of expertise in insurance products.  The Chartered Life Underwriter Exam, or CLU Exam, is developed and administered by American College of Financial Services.  The purpose of the certification is to ensure professionals are qualified to provide individuals and business clients with advice on topics such as health and life insurance as well as estate and tax planning.


The Chartered Life Underwriter Exam, or CLU Exam, refers to a program consisting of five college-level core courses and three electives.  Each course takes approximately three weeks to complete, with the entire online progression of study running from six to nine months in duration.  The curriculum consists of the following five core courses:

  • Fundamentals of Insurance Planning:  includes insurance needs, risk management, industry operations, legal principles and regulation.  Insurance topics include life, annuities, medical, disability, long-term care, personal property and liability.
  • Individual Life Insurance:  includes policy types, use of annuities in financial planning, insurance reserves and investments.
  • Life Insurance Law:  includes legal rights and obligations of the policy owners and insurers, resolving disputes, the judicial process, contract law, policy provisions, assignments, ownership rights, beneficiary designations, disposition of proceeds and privacy issues.
  • Fundamentals of Estate Planning:  includes estate and gift tax planning, valuation, transfer, administration, property taxes, strategies, trusts, wills, power of appointment, marital deductions, buy and sell agreements in addition to ethics.
  • Planning for Business Owners and Professionals:  includes legal and tax aspects of business formation, compensation, buy-sell agreements, estate planning, transfers, and disposition of business interest.

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

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

The examinations are closed-book, as would be the case with business courses offered by accredited educational institutions.  In addition to the above requirements, certificate candidates must have three years of full-time business experience in the preceding five years.  To maintain certification, candidates must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.

If a student fails an examination, they must wait a minimum of two business days before rescheduling an appointment in a testing center to retake the exam.  Students must pre-select a three-month window (January through March, April through June, July through September, or October through December) to take the final exam.  Students will receive a pass / fail grade in the mail within ten days of taking the examination.

Related Terms

CFP Exam, CPA Exam, CFA Eam, CFS Exam, ChFC Exam, CIC, CIMA, CMT Exam, CFE Exam, FRM Exam