We’re thrilled you’re considering insurance as a career path. Becoming an insurance agent is a simple process, and with the right focus, you can start selling policies in as little as one month! In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to become a licensed insurance agent. We’ll cover:
- Deciding if a career as an agent is a good fit for you
- Choosing what type of agent you want to be
- Preparing for and passing the required exam
- Applying for jobs
Step One: Determine if Selling Insurance is Right for You
There are a few quality traits that all successful insurance agents have in common. You’re a great candidate for this career path if you have a few of these same traits.
Great Customer Service Skills
The insurance industry is, at heart, a service industry. You’ll encounter a lot of opportunities to engage with customers while working for an insurance agency, broker, or large carrier. The ability to communicate through a difficult situation, or answer questions about a complicated matter, is a must. Quality phone, email, and in-person customer service skills will amplify your ability to be successful in this role.
A Background or Interest in Sales
The job of an insurance agent is a sales job. You are selling insurance policies for various types of insurance coverage. If you work for an agency, your goal is to sell a certain number of policies each month. You may have a wide range of types of coverage you need to sell. If you have a background in sales, it’s a major plus. If you don’t, that’s okay. You just have to be interested in getting into sales and willing to sell.
Ability to Handle Rejection
Just like in other sales positions, you will have potential customers that don’t want the type of coverage you’re selling, or may not want to broaden their existing coverage for their specific needs. Again, this is a sales job, so you will have to be able to handle this rejection. Insurance is also a relationship business. If you do a good job supporting the needs of the customer, even if they don’t purchase from the first sales pitch, they may buy that coverage in the future.
Attention to detail
Selling insurance involves understanding risk and providing options for the customer that best fits their type of risk. Auto coverage to a driver, homeowner’s coverage to a homeowner, and general liability coverage to a business owner are a few examples of the types of coverage you may sell. Each of those coverages may include additional options for the amount of coverage, additional extended coverages, and exposures that might be excluded from the coverage.
With attention to detail, you can find the areas where you could provide better coverage or more coverage, based on the unique needs of the customer. Attention to detail is also important in the event of a claim. Providing the correct policy at the time of sale can protect you and your employer from liability in the event of a claim. While it’s rare, insurance agencies can get pulled into litigation as a result of a claim. But attention to detail prevents your employer from being at fault.
Passion for knowledge
One of the best ways to advance in the insurance industry is to educate yourself on the many types of coverages you can offer as an agent. The more you learn about the different types of insurance, the more you’re able to sell with confidence.
Obtaining Designations can also make you more employable and help to move up the ranks from local insurance agent or entry-level agent to a department head or high-paid underwriter or executive. There is incredible room for growth for those that are willing to broaden their insurance knowledge. Additional opportunities are available to those that come into the industry with existing expertise in another field. Someone with experience in construction may do well selling Commercial General Liability coverage to contractors. If you have a background in Information Technology (IT) you might be exceptional at selling Cyber Liability coverage.
Step Two: Decide Your Preferred Agent Type
There are two main types of insurance agents, captive agents and independent agents. Both types may offer a long and high-paying career trajectory. Neither is better than the other and it is possible to start as a captive agent and later become an independent agent, or vice versa.
A captive agent typically works for one carrier selling the products provided by that carrier. In return, the carrier will invest in the agents’ education, including paying for additional training, designations, and continuing education (CE) courses. Captive agents are usually subject to a non-compete and are not allowed to sell, or market, insurance that is outside of what is offered by their employer.
An independent agent can sell insurance from any carrier that has given an appointment to their agency. Independent agents can work for themselves by starting their own agency and listing themselves as the principal agent, or they can be employed by an independent agency. Independent agents that work for an employer may still be required to sign a non-compete. This non-compete prevents the agent from selling for a competing independent agency but does not typically specify carriers or appointments.
Step Three: Study for the Licensing Exam
Most U.S. states require that you obtain a license to sell insurance. This is typically called a General Lines or Producer License. Depending on your state, you may need to take a pre-licensing course before you can register to take the state exam. In most states, no pre-licensing is required but you’ll still want to prepare to ace that licensing exam.
We strongly recommend taking an exam prep course to more easily absorb the concepts that will be on the exam. Visit this page for some helpful study tips before you get started.
Heads up! We offer easy-to-follow licensing courses that satisfy the states’ requirements and will help you pass your insurance licensing exam with flying colors. Click here to see the available courses in your state.
Step Four: Take the Exam & Obtain the License
Requirements for taking the exam vary depending on the state you live in. Visit your state Department of Insurance website to find step-by-step instructions on how to schedule your exam and apply for your state license. Most states will provide a link where you can schedule your exam date. Some states also require fingerprinting. When you schedule your exam you’ll need to pay a fee to secure your testing spot and take the test.
After you’ve taken and passed the exam, you should receive instructions on how to apply and pay for your official license. Once you’ve paid for your license, be sure to download a copy of the license for your records. You may also consider sharing the news with professional colleagues and LinkedIn followers. You never know who’s hiring new agents!
Step Five: Apply for Positions
Now that you have your license in hand, you’re ready to become an agent. We recommend that you gain a few years of experience working for another agency, or carrier, before you consider opening an agency yourself. If you prefer to work for someone else indefinitely, that’s great too! There is plenty of room for advancement within already established agencies and carriers. When applying for a role as an agent, consider whether you want to sell commercial lines of insurance, personal lines of insurance, or both. This may help you narrow down positions.
Before applying, we recommend you build a resume and LinkedIn account. These tools will help you stand out among your peers. If you have additional questions about becoming a licensed agent we invite you to reach out to our customer service team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We wish you the best of luck on your journey to becoming an insurance agent. Don’t forget to stop our course catalog when you’re ready to take your Continuing Education (CE). We’ll be here to help!