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Insurance Agent


How to become an Insurance Agent
Insurance Agent Job Duties
Skills and qualities needed to become an Insurance Agent
Insurance Agents Salary
Influential Insurance Agents
Leading Organizations in this field
Top Cities for Insurance Agent Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Insurance Agent

Every insurance agent who engages in selling or negotiation of insurance must obtain a State issued license. The requirement for a license varies by state but typically the potential agent is required to have some insurance related course work and must pass several examinations. Some agents are hired right out of college, but more often an individual is hired as a customer service representative and is later promoted to a sales position.

A separate license is required to sell casualty, property and life and health insurance. Most states will only issue a license to applicants who have completed specified pre-licensing courses and who pass the stated tests covering insurance fundamentals and the state insurance laws.

The industry is become more and more uniform from state to state. This will make it easier for an agent who becomes licensed in one state to obtain their license in other states. Furthermore most states also require agents to take mandatory continuing education covering such topics as insurance laws, consumer protection, ethics and the technical details of various insurance policies.

What does an Insurance Agent do?

The job of an insurance agent is to help clients choose insurance policies that suit their needs. The clients can be individuals and families as well as businesses. An insurance agent that works for an insurance company is called a captive agent and can only sell that company's insurance. Independent agents can represent several companies. There are several types of insurance including property and casualty, life, health, disability and long term care insurance.

Many agents are branching out to sell mutual funds, variable annuities and other securities as well. Some even offer comprehensive financial planning services to their clients. Some of these services include planning for retirement, estate planning and assistance in setting up pension plans for businesses. Though this practice is most common with life insurance agents who already sell annuities, however many property and casualty agents also sell financial products.

What skills or qualities do I need to become an Insurance Agent?

The most important qualities include good communication skills and the agent must be honest and trustworthy. The client is not going to purchase insurance if they cannot communicate easily with the agent or if they just do not feel comfortable with them.

The licensing is a must have requirement. The agent must obtain a license from the state where they plan to work. Since there is an ever increasing demand for financial products and financial planning, agents are choosing to broaden their scope by getting a license to sell securities and other financial products. To do this the agent is required to take on substantial study and pass an additional examination. This would be either the Series 6 or Series 7 licensing exam. These are both administered by the National Association of Securities Dealers NASD. The Series 6 exam is for agents who want to sell only mutual funds and annuities. For a license as a general securities sales representative the agent must take the Series 7 exam. This is the main NASD series license.

Other qualifications might include previous experience in sales or insurance jobs. Many individuals who enter into the insurance sales business have transferred from other sales related occupations. These might include customer service positions.

Insurance agents should also be flexible and enthusiastic. Their confidence level will greatly affect their clients, the higher the confidence of the agent the more the client will feel comfortable about buying from them. Successful insurance agents need to be disciplined and hard working and they must be willing and able to solve problems. Also, since they generally work without supervision the skill in time management can be very important, plus they will need the initiative to locate new clients.

How much does an Insurance Agent make?

In May of 2006 the median yearly earnings of salaried and waged insurance sales agents were $43,870. The middle 50 percent had annual earnings between $31,640 and $69,180. The lowest 10 percent had yearly earnings less than $24,600, while the top 10 percent earned more than $115,090 a year. Also in May 2006 the median annual earning for the two industries that employ the greatest number of insurance sales agents was $46,210 for insurance carriers. For agencies, brokerages and other insurance related activities the median annual income was $42,950.

There are many independent agents who are paid only by commission. However, sales workers who are employed by agencies or an insurance carrier can be paid in several ways. These include salary only, salary plus commission or salary plus bonus plan. For the most part commissions are the most common form of compensation for insurance sales agents. This is especially true for experienced agents. There are several factors that can influence the amount of the commission such as the type and amount of insurance sold and whether the transaction was a new policy or a renewal.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Robelynn Abadie has been in the insurance business for 24 years. She founded her company in 1981 and it has shown steady growth even in the economic downturn or the middle 1980's. Abadie Financial Services has everything a client might need including employee benefits such as life insurance, health insurance and retirement plans.

Abadie was recently named a member of the Million Dollar Roundtable's Top of the Table. This is a benchmark of excellence in the insurance industry worldwide. There are only 970 agents globally who qualified for the Top of the Table and only 57 of them were women.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The Hartford Financial Services was one of the top rated companies. It allows agents and brokers to provide real time processing of standard as well as non-standard automobile and homeowners quotes and submissions.

Blue Cross Blue Shield BCBS is probably the best known health insurance company. BCBS of South Carolina offers My Insurance Manager, which is a web, based claims entry system. It enables providers from large and small practices to meet the compliant claims entry mandate.

What are the top cities for Insurance Agent jobs?

As might be expected the most populated areas are also those with the greatest need for insurance agents. These are New York City, NY with a population of 8,274,527 topping the list. Los Angeles, CA coming in second with a population of 3,834,340 and Chicago, IL taking third place with a population of 2,836,658.

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