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May 26, 2022

What Is the Difference Between CRM vs ARM and Which Certification Is Right for You?


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When advancing your insurance career or attempting to grow your client base, pursuing specific certifications or an insurance designation can help. Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance designations advance your industry knowledge, show managers you're proactive in advancing your career, and show you're willing and capable of handling multiple tasks. Determining the right certification is the next step when you decide to pursue career advancement in the insurance industry. Certified Risk Manager (CRM) and Associate in Risk Management (ARM) certification are two of the most useful insurance designations. Learning more about each certification and their differences can help you decide which one is right for you.

What is a Certified Risk Manager (CRM) in Insurance? 

A young couple reviewing their insurance options with a certified risk manager

A risk manager is a professional with training in risk management. A certified risk manager designation is an important professional insurance designation for risk managers in the risk management industry. A risk manager is trained in risk assessment which includes preventing, reducing, avoiding, and eliminating risk. Within this particular insurance education, risk management courses provide in-depth knowledge of insurance language, providing an improved capability for understanding exactly what is and is not covered by a client's insurance policy. The ability to master all 5 CRM courses indicates that a risk manager has a complete understanding of risk management principles and the knowledge to handle complex situations.

Risk Management Certification

The certified risk management course is designed to advance a risk manager's career and for professionals in related fields including insurance, accountants, and legal experts. The five CRM courses, each consisting of 2½ days of intensive classroom instruction, are Principles of Risk Management, Analysis of Risk, Control of Risk, Financing of Risk, and Practice of Risk Management. Each is designed to give you a thorough understanding of the overall risk management process, as well as general insurance and insurance principles needed by risk professionals. At the end of each course, you have the option to take the 2-hour exam associated with that course. To maintain the certification, you have to take an annual 2.5-day course online or in person. 

What is an Associate in Risk Management (ARM) in Insurance?

A young couple learning about risk management

An Associate in Risk Management is an insurance professional who has developed a deeper knowledge of various risk elements obtained through ARM professional certifications and courses. The ARM designation is a professional certification for an individual who has completed the three required courses and passed an exam. An additional course provides certification for enterprise risk management.

ARM Certification

The Associate in Risk Management Program consists of three courses. While the courses can be taken in any order and to fulfill all education requirements, it's recommended to take ARM 400 prior to taking 401 or 402.

  • ARM 400-Risk in an Evolving World: This course introduces the principles and practices of risk management, including the changing risk environment, modern risk management, detecting risk, leveraging data, successful compliance, strategy, and more.
  • ARM 401-Holistically Assessing Risk: This course introduces the concept of holistic risk assessment, including risk identification, risk analysis, leveraging risk models, hidden cyber risks, and protecting the supply chain. It introduces the concept of enterprise risk management.
  • ARM 402-Successfully Treating Risk: This course builds off the other two courses to cover treating and assessing risk, including the role of insurance in risk treatment, protecting intellectual property, navigating legal and regulatory risk, protecting capital, and more.

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What Does ARM - E Stand For?

As risk management becomes more prevalent, the focus turns to entire organizations. Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) refers to integrated risk management that focuses on the risks of the entire organization. ARM certification is the first experience with formal risk training for many risk management professionals. In 2009, a course for enterprise-wide risk management was developed to go along with the ARM certification. Professionals with ARM certification can take this additional course to become an Associate in Risk Management - ERM (ARM-E). An ARM-E certification designates that you're a certified ARM with advanced training in enterprise-wide risk management.

ARM and ERM certifications are an excellent way for insurance agents to gain a deeper knowledge of various elements of risk management and can be a stepping stone to the prestigious CPCU designation. The Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) certification is more involved and signifies a broader understanding of P&C insurance, specializing in personal or commercial and focused on underwriting.

Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter Designation

The complexity of information associated with this course makes it one of the most difficult to obtain. Considered a master's degree in insurance, the CPCU is advanced training that focuses on topics like risk management and P&C insurance. The CPCU certification provides expertise in the underwriting process, an understanding of insurance company accounting, and knowledge of legal issues in the insurance industry.

Obtaining the CPCU certification requires the completion of 9 courses and 8 exams. Core concepts include Foundations of Risk Management and Insurance, Insurance Operations, Business Law for Insurance Professionals, and Accounting for Insurance Professionals. Only 4% of insurance professionals hold the CPCU designation, which takes about 2-3 years to earn.

What Can I Do with an ARM Designation?

An ARM designation teaches the science of risk management and provides the necessary skills and understanding to avoid, reduce, and manage risk. This designation can prove beneficial for those interested in entering the property & casualty industry as well as who would like to advance their current knowledge in the field. The ARM designation is highly respected in the insurance industry and could help secure a position or advance your career.

Other Certifications to Support Continuing Education and Insurance Professionals

There are many ways insurance agents can further their education and advance their careers. ARM and CRM designations are some of the most common certifications pursued by P&C agents. However, there are other designations available.

Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC)

The CIC designation is one of the most widely recognized certifications in the insurance industry. It is recommended for licensed agents, brokers, and adjusters with at least 2 years of full-time insurance experience. The CIC courses are taught by experienced, practicing insurance agents or practitioners in relevant areas of the industry, and continually updated with real-world and state-specific examples. The CIC courses cover five different areas within the industry, including agency management, commercial casualty, commercial property, life and health insurance, and personal insurance.

To earn the designation, agents must complete 5 courses and exams. Each class includes 16 hours of instruction with a 2-hour essay exam at the end of each class. To keep your designation up to date, you must take annual continuing education courses.

Certified Insurance Service Representative

The Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) designation is designed to provide the best kinds of customer service through specific courses to understand the risks and exposures involved in every insurance coverage. CISR courses set the standard for technical expertise and client relationships training, so agents can help clients with important coverage decisions.

The CISR program consists of 9 courses and examinations (of which an agent is required to pass 5). To complete the program successfully, some working knowledge of the applicable policies is required. After the completion of 5 courses, an agent receives the CISR dedication. To keep the designation, you must update each year with continuing education.

CRM vs ARM: Which Risk Management Certification is Best?

A young insurance agent searching on a laptop for answers to which risk assessment certification is best

CRM and ARM are both widely respected certifications in the insurance industry. Deciding which one is best for you depends on your current experience, the time and money you have to invest in your education, and your intended career path for the future. When considering which designation is right for you, consider these differences.

  • CRM: This designation focuses on managing risk, hazards, and loss exposures. The certification is known for increasing an agent's knowledge of insurance language to better understand policies. CRM designation requires agents to take 5 courses and pass the corresponding essay exams.
  • ARM: This designation focuses on the science of risk management and provides agents with skills to avoid, reduce, and manage risk. To earn the ARM designation, agents must complete 3 courses and take the corresponding multiple-choice exams.

While the CRM courses offer more in-depth information, ARM courses are a good beginner's choice and can be used as a stepping stone for CPCU certification. It's important to remember that you can hold multiple designations as an insurance professional. By using your current insurance role as a guide, you can choose the certification that will best serve your current position, and aspire to complete other certifications in the future.

Advancing Your Career in the Insurance Industry with Risk Management Certification

A young insurance agent cheering at a laptop after completing an online risk management certification

Risk management is core to all insurance practices. Continuing education in the insurance industry can help you better understand risk analysis and management to better evaluate your clients' unique situations. No matter what course you choose to advance your career, gaining professional knowledge will improve your abilities to serve your customers. After selecting the designation that best matches your needs, learn about the requirements of your chosen courses and plot a path to success. To learn more about attracting new clients, insurance software, and other vital insurance industry knowledge, visit the InsurGrid blog