The Insurance Institute of Canada (Institute) is riding high after a very successful year of professional education and career development for Canada’s property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry. The organization, which serves more than 40,000 members countrywide, is celebrating a record number of graduates in the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) class of 2021, as well as record numbers of students who enrolled in Institute programs, licensing courses and webinars over the past year.
“We’re delighted to see so many people in the industry following their education,” said Peter Hohman, Insurance Institute of Canada president and CEO. “It’s recognition that the industry is continuously evolving, and in the last few years, we’ve seen that evolution accelerate noticeably. Whether it’s the different types and usage of technology in conducting business or in how we communicate with each other, or [macro trends like] climate change, an increase in cyber risk, or the hard commercial insurance market – there’s a lot of change happening in the marketplace. And I think people understand that they have to continue their education and upgrade their skills to stay knowledgeable and competitive.”
Convocation ceremonies in the coming weeks will celebrate 1,200 CIP graduates, the highest number of grads in one year in Institute history. Hohman commended the graduates for turning a difficult challenge into a positive opportunity by using their COVID-19 pandemic-driven time at home to enhance their education goals. He said the record numbers demonstrate “the strength and resilience of [Canada’s] insurance community”.
Like many organizations, the Institute had to pivot “literally overnight” when COVID hit, Hohman reflected, but the organization had a head start in that it already delivered online courses. Approximately one-third of its students were enrolled in virtual education prior to the pandemic, and when COVID hit, the Institute moved its remaining students to digital learning.
“We introduced a number of new virtual learning aids to help students study in this ‘new-to-them’ type of format,” said Hohman. “Our online courses [and educational text books and resources] flow on to any device, whether it’s your cell phone, your laptop, or your iPad, so it really provides a mobile learning experience for our students, which is really convenient for them. We also trained more of our instructors to teach in an online format and provided them with a number of web-based tools to enable them to provide an engaging online learning experience. And of course, at the same time, we introduced our virtual exams for both Institute exams and for licensing exams.”
While there was some hope to offer in-person exams in April 2022, the COVID Omicron variant had other ideas. For at least the first half of 2022, the Institute will continue to offer online learning experiences and virtually proctored exams with the help of ProctorU, an organization that delivers secure live and automated online proctoring services for academic institutions and professional organizations.
“The plan is that we will begin to offer in-person exams in July 2022, along with virtually proctored exams, and then we’ll continue to [offer both options] moving forward,” Hohman told Insurance Business. “I think as more people work from home, either on a hybrid basis or a permanent basis, it’s hard to ask them to travel to go and write an exam if they can just flip open their laptop instead. From a convenience perspective, I think it makes good sense to be able to continue to offer that format.”
As for the upcoming convocation ceremonies for the 2021 CIP graduates, this will be the second year of virtual celebrations, but Hohman stressed that the Institute has made several exciting enhancements to virtual convocations, which have been very well received.
“The ceremonies are hosted in real-time. We have a number of graduates who share their personal stories of their own education journey, and we have break-out rooms for them to network in. Our board chair Heather Masterson, who is CEO of Travelers Canada, delivered a really compelling and inspiring congratulatory message to our grads,” he said. “We have other senior industry leaders providing their congratulations and showing support, like Valérie Lavoie from Desjardins, Louis Gagnon from Intact, James Russell from TD insurance, Carol Jardine from Wawanesa. We have a lot of senior leaders the local insurance communities who join in, and I think that really adds a nice celebratory component to the events.”
The Institute has also introduced digital badges for the CIP, ACIP, FCIP, and all diploma programs so that successful graduates can demonstrate their accomplishments in a digital format. These badges, like much of the digital innovation that the Institute has delivered over the past two years, have been very well received, according to Hohman, and are here to stay.