Many entry-level insurance agents learn the duties of the job by working alongside more experienced agents. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions by new and aspiring insurance agents:
1. Where can I find out about pre-licensure and licensure requirements in my state?
Each state has an insurance board or commission that can help applicants determine the mandatory requirements in their state. The American Council of Life Insurers provides a list of all 50 state insurance departments on its website.
2. Are there any continuing education requirements to maintain my license?
Yes. Changes in federal insurance laws, insurance benefits programs and other areas can impact client’s needs. Most state insurance boards require agents and brokers to complete continuing education courses to keep abreast of these changes to maintain their licensure. The Institutes Risk & Insurance Knowledge Group provides a list of each state’s continuing education requirements for a wide range of common industry certifications.
3. Are there additional career options once I’ve earned licensure as an insurance agent?
Yes. Insurance agents – especially those who have completed bachelor degree programs – often move on to more advanced careers. These include working as insurance underwriters, actuaries, cost estimators, appraisers, claims adjusters or in risk assessment and risk management.
4. Should I join an insurance industry trade association?
It would be helpful. There are dozens of industry trade organizations that provide members with discounts on continuing education, educational resources, opportunities for professional development and networking, and regional and national conferences where agents can mingle with like-minded peers. These resources can be an important avenue for career growth.
5. What are some of the most important skills needed to succeed in this career?
Agents need to be highly analytical so they can assess their client’s needs. They should be excellent communicators to discuss which policies meet client’s needs and why. They need to be self-starters and actively find new clients and build a book of business to keep commissions flowing. Lastly, they need to have the self-confidence to call potential clients and discuss the benefits of buying new or additional lines of insurance.
Decide if you want to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree program.
A college education can help experienced agents move into careers in risk management, working as actuaries, or other positions that require postsecondary education. Plus, having a background in business and finance can be a tremendous asset to agents.
Pick a specialty.
Agents sell many different kinds of insurance, such as property, casualty, disability and personal lines of insurance. These are referred to as “lines of authority” in the industry. Agents must receive licensure for their particular line of authority. Knowing what type of insurance you want to sell is an important step in your career path.
Complete pre-licensure requirements.
Pre-licensure requirements vary from state to state, but they are a mandatory step toward earning licensure as an insurance agent or broker. For example, California applicants for casualty license must complete 20 hours of general pre-licensing education, as well as 12 hours of education in the state’s ethics and insurance codes. Students should check with their state’s insurance department for pre-licensure requirements.
Pass a licensing exam.
All agents must pass a licensing exam to sell insurance. The National Insurance Producer Registry has compiled a list of state-specific licensing requirements, associated fees and other important data about the licensing process. There are many companies that can help you study for your licensing exam, either in person (in a classroom), or through online courses.
Apply at insurance agencies.
Agents who have met all the requirements and earned licensure are eligible for employment at insurance agencies and brokerages, which can vary from small local brokerages to regional offices of well-known insurance carriers.