Most of these courses are offered through colleges or universities, but free courses rarely (if ever) offer college credit. Still, they provide a free opportunity to study real college coursework at your own pace, without the need to worry about exams or attendance.
Students don’t need to formally enroll or register in order to take these courses; starting a class is as simple as visiting the link and downloading the course materials. Special software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader or Windows Media Player may be required to access course materials, and some courses may have readings from specific textbooks.
Free Insurance Continuing Education Courses
Colorado Department of Higher Education
To help all students gain a better handle on their financial affairs, the Colorado Department of Higher Education has produced a financial literacy program called Money 101. This program introduces students and their families to the basics of financial planning, featuring interactive online classes in topics like money management, saving and investing, credit and debt, budgeting, and taxes. Access to these courses is free for all students, with workbooks and presentation materials available free of charge for Colorado educators.
Insurance is a course that’s covered in the Money 101 curriculum, with input from the Colorado Financial Planning Association, the Insurance Information Institute, and the Council for Economic Education. Through text and video lessons, students can learn more about the various types of insurance, such as life, health, auto, and homeowner’s insurance. Students can use this knowledge to make informed and sensible decisions when buying an insurance policy.
Yale University has made many of its previous course offerings available online, free of charge. Open Yale Courses do not provide college credit or certification opportunities, but all students are welcome to participate in all courses, which cover the arts, humanities, and sciences. Each course provides audio or video recordings of original lectures, plus written transcripts.
Financial Markets features a lecture on insurance in the context of financial instruments and institutions. This course provides an introduction to risk management, as well as lessons in behavioral finance, self-regulation, banks, stocks and markets, real estate, and other issues related to risk. The insurance lesson covers such topics as insurance principles and industry regulation. Students can view video lectures and utilize links to supplemental resources. Quizzes and answers are included with the course materials. This course requires two textbooks: Foundations of Financial Markets and Institutions by F. Fabozzi, F. Modigliani, F. Jones & M. Ferri (4th ed.), and Finance and the Good Society by course professor R. Shiller. A list of other required readings are provided with the course.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
All students interested in healthcare issues may access previous Johns Hopkins courses through the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health OpenCourseWare (JHSPH OCW) site. Students do not need to be enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, and all courses and course materials are free and accessible anytime, anywhere. All materials found here also fall under Creative Commons licensing rules, so they may be shared freely so long as the work is cited properly. As the goal of JHSPH OCW is to provide and share educational content, the courses here do not count for degree-granting credit.
Managed Care and Health Insurance, originally offered in 2007, covers managed care, ethical issues, risk, public policy, and financial issues. Regulation and evaluation of insurance programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and HMOs, are explored, as are methods for assessing the quality and accountability of insurance programs. Students can view PDFs of notes from selected lectures and answer discussion questions. Students will be assigned readings from Essentials of Managed Health Care (Bartlett & Jones, 4th edition), while lists of supplemental journal articles and other readings are provided, with links.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT OpenCourseWare also offers an extensive range of free courses drawn from MIT’s most popular previous course offerings. Although you cannot earn academic credit with these courses, you may complete as many of them as you like, working on your own schedule with open access to all course materials (such as lectures, readings, assignments, and quizzes).
Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy is appropriate for undergrad upperclassmen or graduate students and was originally offered in Fall, 2006. This economics course examines the intersection of microeconomics and public policy, including how microeconomic models apply to risk management and health insurance. This course includes lecture notes in a downloadable PDF format, plus recitation slides, assignments, and insights from the instructor. Each lesson has its own required and recommended readings, with provided links. This course also has two required textbooks: Intermediate Microeconomics: A Tool-Building Approach by S. Banerjee (1st edition) and Mastering ‘Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect by J. Angrist and J. Pischke. Previous study in microeconomic principles is recommended before taking this course.
Public Economics II is a graduate course from Spring, 2004. Its coursework focuses on expenditure and public services provided by government agencies and charitable organizations. It also takes a critical look at social insurance theories and vehicles like Social Security, unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation, health insurance, and disability insurance. The lecture notes available to download are limited, but this course does provide a complete list of recommended readings and textbooks, including A. Auerbach and M. Feldstein’s Handbook of Public Economics (Vols. 1, 2 and 3). Three assignments and the final exam are also included with the course materials.
Public Finance and Public Policy is an undergraduate course that was offered in Fall, 2010. Students will apply basic principles of microeconomics to government policies and programs and take a vital look at programs like Social Security, unemployment, and health insurance. In particular, this course explores differences between private health insurance and programs run by the government. In order to follow along with assigned readings, students will first have to purchase a textbook: Public Finance and Public Policy by J. Gruber. Recitation slides, problem sets, and exam questions with solutions are also available in a PDF format.
Risk management professionals or those who are interested in starting a career in insurance may find support, membership, networking opportunities, and professional designations with the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, or The Institutes. The Institutes offers two online ethics courses for property/casualty underwriters and other insurance professionals, or for those who simply want to learn more about the ethical principles that guide the industry. Both courses are offered free of charge, or with a nominal $5.50 fee for those who wish to use these courses for CE credit.
Ethical Guidelines for Insurance Professionals covers real-world ethical problems and case studies that insurance professionals at all levels may encounter on the job. The course emphasizes the importance of maintaining ethical standards and upholding one’s responsibility towards the insurer, policyholder, and the general public. Students of this course learn how to make ethical decisions regarding conflicts of interest, breaches of privacy, or general business dilemmas.
Ethics and the CPCU Code of Professional Conduct is similar to the course above, but geared especially towards those earning (or intending to earn) a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation from The Institutes. As this course also covers CPCU codes of conduct and rules, completion of this course is a requirement for those earning a CPCU. However, it may also be taken for CE credit or simply for personal enrichment.
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The Open University
No matter where you are in the world or what your schedule may look like, you have the opportunity to access university-level coursework and earn a degree with the Open University. In addition, the Open University now offers over 900 free online courses with its OpenLearn program. OpenLearn courses are available to anybody; no prerequisites or college admission required. They are fully self-paced with no time limits, and while they do not count for credit towards a degree, you can earn a statement of participation upon completion.
Managing My Money is an introductory level course offered by OpenLearn that contains roughly 24 hours of study and coursework, including assessments and activities. While it takes a general look at managing household finances, with chapters in budgeting, taxes, savings and debt, pensions and more, it also contains an entire chapter devoted to insurance and household risk management. Learn about different types of insurance, when you need insurance and when you do not, and how to determine which optional insurance plans are right for you and your family. Everything you need to complete this course is contained within for free, with no need to purchase additional materials or books.
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