A Career in Insurance
As the owner of an insurance pre-license training company for over 15 years, I get a lot of calls from prospective students asking about a career in insurance. I get questions like, “Is it a good career? Can I make any money? How hard is it to become successful?”
Prior to pre-license training, I was a district manager with a major insurance company for 34 years and my primary responsibility was to recruit and train new agents in the business of insurance. These recruits also inquired about the overall benefits of a profession in the insurance industry.
So, let’s look at the opportunities available with a career in insurance. Many people believe that an insurance career is all about sales and if you do not make enough sales, you are a loser and will be compelled to find another line of work; this thinking is not entirely true. Sales are indeed critical to the success of any insurance company or agency but there are lots of positions within an agency that do not require an aggressive salesman. Let’s look at some of these positions:
Some position examples are underwriter, claims adjuster, actuary, customer service representatives, or simply support staff. The list goes on and on. But our focus is mostly interested in the local insurance agency down the street. So, what staff positions do they utilize and what are they looking for?
Successful insurance agencies have made a commitment to take care of the needs of their policyholders. This requires equal attention be given to servicing the needs of their customers as well as making a sale.
Every successful insurance agency requires a team, and the head of the team is the agency owner. The agency owner is a licensed insurance agent, and the rest of the team is made up of customer service representatives (CSRs) or Team Members. These CSRs handle the day-to-day activity of the agency, from payment issues to reporting claims, and essentially run the agency. If the CSR provides insurance quotes or advises on insurance coverage, they must become “licensed.” Licensing is a process which we will discuss in a few moments.
A job as a CSR is an incredible opportunity and usually does not require selling insurance. However, many agencies will provide an incentive plan (bonus, commissions, or other forms of compensation) to team members who can make a sale. Think about that; the people who handle daily activities and are always talking to clients and know a lot about them, may be the best people to recommend or advise the policyholder on their insurance needs, and thus make a sale. Although CSRs are vital to an agency and can generate sales when licensed, the spokes of the wheel of revenue comes from active sales agents in the field.
What does it take to be successful in insurance sales? Commitment, dedication, guts, strength of character, team, etc.? Yes, those are all important factors but the essential ingredient to a successful career in insurance starts with building a plan. If you can successfully answer the questions of who, what, when, where and how, you are on your way to success.
The company and the recruiting manager will explain, in detail, the requirements they pose for new insurance agents. They can help you build a plan, but they cannot implement the plan. That is up to you. If you have the details laid out on where your success will be coming from, that’s a good start on the path of achievement.
If you’re licensed, you’re golden!
Let’s discuss the licensing process. My favorite saying is: “If you’re licensed, you’re golden.” As I mentioned at the beginning, I talk with a lot of people about the opportunities of an insurance career. If you are seriously considering a career in insurance, get licensed and then start your search for the best opportunity, because the opportunities are out there; recent evidence shows the insurance profession will grow by 7% in the United States between 2020-2030 with over 50,000 openings for insurance sales agents projected each year (US Labor Statistics). When it comes to finding these opportunities, if you walk into an interview and have already passed the insurance exam, you will get an incredible amount of attention from the recruiter. This is because we know that only about one-third (1/3) of the people that start the licensing process will complete it and ultimately secure an insurance license. It is also very well likely it will assist in negotiating a better salary and/or benefits package.
The State Insurance Examination
* Note: every state in the US requires the successful completion of an insurance exam to become an insurance agent and the examination process is similar in most states. The first item is to sign up for pre-license insurance training and learn about the laws and regulations, terms and concepts, and overall theme of the industry. Certain Lines of Authority (Property/Casualty, Life, Health, etc.) have their own particulars and terms pertaining to their individual line, but all contain and pursue ethical dogma; you must be truthful in all that you do without misrepresentation or attempting to mislead the client concerning your services or policies.
The examination that you sign-up for depends on what kind of license you want. The options are Property/Casualty insurance (allows sales in auto, home, commercial, bonds, marine, workers compensation, etc.), Life (allows sales in life insurance and annuities), Health, Personal Lines (allows sales in auto, home, inland marine, but not commercial or ocean marine), or Claims Adjuster (Independent or Public). Some states provide other license opportunities like Customer Service Representative (CSRs).
When the pre-license training is complete, the next stop is the state examination. Passing the exam is not easy. Most states have a first-time passing ratio far less than 50%. The majority of states use one of three vendors to administer the examination: PSI exams (PSI exams ), Pearson Vue (Pearson Vue ), and Prometric (Prometric).
After successful completion of the state insurance exam, applicants can then apply for a license in their state. The usual requirements are application processing, fees, background checks, and fingerprinting.
For obvious reasons, licensing is a critical step to consider when thinking about a career in insurance, but it is not the most important step. Take the time to write down the benefits (and pitfalls) of an insurance career, talk with friends or family, talk with your own insurance agent, and then make your decision if a career in insurance is right for you.
Many years ago, I decided to get involved in insurance and have had few regrets over the years. I am confident that you’ll feel that way too.
We can help! Visit us at https://www.itaamerica.com (Insurance Training Associates)