It is interesting how often this question comes up. Actually, this issue seems to find its way into various legal documents (oftentimes this would be the Summons and Complaint that is served on agents to notify them of the lawsuit). Oftentimes, there will be references to the various designations achieved by the specific agency person (producer / CSR, etc.).
There have also been many E&O claims where the main issue in the case was something that would have been addressed in one of the various designation program (CPCU, CIC, etc.) and the plaintiff attorney is alleging that the insurance agent should have been more knowledgeable on the issue since it was covered in the classes. This can certainly depend on the issue as there are many insurance issues that agency personnel should be knowledgeable on whether they have the designation or not.
So what’s the bottom line on this issue? In the vast majority of courts on issues to determine negligence, there is no clear cut position / decision that professional designations increase the legal standard of care.
There is certainly a lot to learn to be successful in the insurance industry and it is generally felt that the knowledge secured in achieving the various professional designations will help you to achieve this success. Actually there are some E&O carriers that provide a credit on your E&O premium for having a set percentage of staff with a designation. This seems to clearly show that they favor agents achieving designations. Also, I would think that customers would favor an agency whose staff had designations over an agency where this was not the case.
Designations should significantly help agency staff to do their job and to better serve their customers. That by itself is a pretty good reason!