Advocis dusts off RHU

By Steven Lamb | June 4, 2007 | Last updated on June 4, 2007
3 min read

Advisors looking for an edge in the increasingly competitive living benefits market should bear in mind that competence and education go a long way with both clients and regulators. It was with this in mind that Advocis revamped its Registered Health Underwriter designation.

“The RHU designation gives advisors a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” says Taylor D. Train, Advocis vice-president of marketing. “It arms them with the skills to meet the very high demand for living benefits expertise and, at the same time, sets them apart from the competition.”

Train admits that the RHU designation was in need of an overhaul, as it had been “on the shelf, gathering dust” for the past few years. The new version of the program has more Canadian-specific content as well as expanded content on disability insurance and long-term care.

He points to the convergence of several key factors in creating a “perfect storm in healthcare.” By now, everyone is aware of the aging population, with baby boomers looking to ensure not only their own standard of living but that of their elderly parents.

But over the past 30 years, there has been a shift in the employment market, with far more people being self-employed today. Contract work is now common, as employers seek to reduce the costs of employment. As a result, fewer Canadians can rely on employer-sponsored group benefits.

Employees with coverage often see their benefits being cut. At the same time, the cost of healthcare continues to rise.

These factors make it more important than ever, Train says, for advisors to understand the intricacies of living benefit products, including critical illness, long-term care and disability insurance.

The revamped RHU designation is the only product of its kind in Canada, Train says, making it an important differentiator for advisors working in the living benefits space.

The designation is offered in two parts, which may be studied concurrently or successively. The first segment focuses on CI, LTC and group benefits, while the second is devoted to income replacement and disability insurance.

He points out that the RHU is “no weekend course” and will take about eight months to complete. Students have the option of paper-based or online study, with modular testing leading up to a final exam, which must be taken in person.

The entire program costs $395 for Advocis members, with a refresher course and exam available to current RHU holders for a nominal fee, which Train says will not be any more than the cost of administering the program.

“We’re not an impediment to people’s growth — we’re a conduit for growth,” he says. To charge more than the nominal fee would, in effect, punish the early adopters who have already made a commitment to health underwriting.

The revamped RHU is the only Advocis designation available to non-members, for $595. Train says the designation is being offered to non-members as a means to encourage membership in the association, by showing some of the benefits the organization has to offer. But non-members should not hold their breath in hopes that the Chartered Life Underwriter designation will be made available.

“The CLU will never, ever, ever be available to non-Advocis members,” he says.

The program is officially up and running, following a soft launch to Advocis members that netted 330 new course registrants. Train says the target for the year is 750, which would bring the total number of current holders and students up to about 2,000 by the start of 2008.

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Steven Lamb