May 4, 2020

Last Updated on November 16, 2021 by

In Canadian provinces outside of Alberta and Ontario, the most common question I get from new brokers looking to get their Level 1 license is whether they should take the CAIB 1 or the Fundamentals of Insurance course. There are pros and cons to each path and I’ll outline the choice between CAIB 1 vs Fundamentals of Insurance here.

CAIB 1 for Level 1 Licensing

The reason most people choose this course/exam for their Level 1 licensing is because they want their CAIB Designation. To get this Designation, you need to have passed all 4 CAIB exams. If you take Fundamentals for Level 1 licensing, you’ll need to circle back and do this exam later.

The downside to new brokers challenging the CAIB 1 exam is that it is more difficult (short answers vs multiple choice) and more expensive ($395 vs $195) than the Fundamentals of Insurance exam.

Fundamentals of Insurance for Level 1

For most new brokers, this is the default option. The Fundamentals exam is favoured because it is the cheaper exam and it is easier for most people – especially if English is not your first language.

CAIB 1 vs Fundamentals of Insurance

For most new brokers, I recommend the Fundamentals of Insurance exam for 3 key reasons:

  1. The Fundamentals exam is cheaper at just $195 vs $395 in most provinces for CAIB 1
  2. There is less material to study vs CAIB 1 (ex: no farm insurance & less details overall)
  3. The exam is easier as well since it’s just 100 multiple choice questions vs definitions and short answer questions in the CAIB 1 exams

While there are definitate advantages to taking the CAIB 1 exam first (especially if you want to get your designation) I typically recommend people prioritize getting industry experience and upgrading their licensing levels over earning a CAIB Designation.

As a result, this is the path I recommend to most students:

Step 1) Pass the Fundamentals of Insurance exam and get your Level 1 license to start working and gaining experience.

Step 2) Pass the CAIB 2 & 3 exams for your Level 2 license. Now you can work independently.

Step 3) Pass the CAIB 4 exam to get Level 3 qualified should the need arise for you to become a nominee (aka supervising broker) or to start up your own brokerage.

Step 4) [OPTIONAL:] Now that you have completed all of your licensing levels, you can go back to do CAIB 1 (which should be easy with your industry experience) and get your CAIB Designation.

If you’re not sure, no worries. There’s no need to make a decision now. Our Level 1 course contains materials for both Fundamentals of Insurance and the CAIB 1 exams. You can start studying first and change your mind at any time.

Jacques Wong is the CEO and Director of Education at PNC Learning. An award-winning licensed insurance broker with over 15 years of experience in both education and the insurance industry, Jacques is recognized for his expertise and effective communication strategies. He achieved the highest provincial scores on his CAIB* 3 and CAIB* 4 exams and contributes to leading insurance publications. Jacques is dedicated to making insurance knowledge accessible for everyone through his unique approach and online content.

Jacques Wong

 Jacques wong


The Best way to learn about our courses is to try them for yourself.




PNC Learning was started by insurance professionals for insurance professionals.

Our goal is to help you get a strong start in the industry and assist you as you seek to learn more and move up in the industry.