How to Become a Licensed Insurance Agent
With so many different types of insurance out there, it’s no wonder that the number of insurance laws keeps increasing. One of these laws, which varies by state in its particulars, requires anyone wishing to sell insurance to first become licensed in their state. But what does it take to become a licensed insurance agent? Again, the exact requirements are different in each state, but this article outlines some of the common prerequisites, including the background check, insurance training courses, and the licensing examination.
The Background Check and Minimum Education
Licensed insurance agents sell insurance policies and help clients file claims. Many people rely on these services to provide a crucial safety net for anything from minor fender benders to devastating natural disasters or severe illnesses. Therefore, it’s understandable that states try to protect consumers by requiring a background check and minimum education requirements for insurance agent hopefuls. Some states go further, mandating applicants undergo fingerprinting in order to examine their state or federal criminal history. If the background check reveals any felonies in your past, you’ll likely be disqualified from becoming a licensed insurance agent.
In terms of minimum education requirements, most states are satisfied if you have at least a high school diploma. However, many employers will want to see a college degree as well. Courses in finance, business, and economics, as well as experience in sales are helpful when seeking employment later on.
Although you can become a licensed insurance agent with just a high school degree, most states will require you to take a pre-licensing training course. You’ll first need to decide what types of insurance you want to sell, such as life, health, or property and casualty insurance. Then, check with your state’s department of insurance to get a list of approved and required courses and course providers.
State laws will vary with regard to the number of course hours you’ll need to complete and the timeframe within which you’ll have to get it done (for example, 40 hours of coursework within six months). Additionally, when you sign up for the necessary courses and pay the applicable fees, you should also submit your actual application to become a licensed insurance agent.
The Licensing Exam
After you submit your licensing application and complete the pre-requisite training, you’ll have to pay a fee and sign up for your state’s licensing exam. Study materials and information about what’s tested can often be found on your state’s department of insurance website. In addition to questions regarding the exact types of insurance you’re hoping to sell, exams will test your knowledge of insurance basics, rules, and regulations.
Many exams are scored at the testing site, so you’ll know right away if you passed. If you fail, you should check your state’s rules for when you can retest or how you might go about appealing the results. For example, in California, if you fail ten times in a 12-month period, you’ll have to wait 12 months before retesting. Once you pass, you can finally call yourself a licensed insurance agent, though you’ll still need to complete continuing education to periodically renew your license.
Get Help with the Licensing Rules and Regulations in Your State
Insurance laws can be complicated and overwhelming, especially for anyone new to the industry. Whether you’re a seasoned license insurance agent dealing with a difficult legal issue, or you’re an applicant who’s hit some legal roadblocks to obtaining your license, let an experienced legal professional explain the applicable insurance laws and help you resolve your issue. Contact a local insurance attorney today to get help defending your interests.