How to Become a Licensed Life Insurance Agent

Insurance AgentsBecoming a life insurance agent may be one of the most challenging, but rewarding careers. Finding people who need your services and products is not easy, but you will be putting food on people’s tables and keeping the roofs over the heads after a primary wage earner has died. People will never turn you away when you are in the process of delivering a check.

You don’t need much education to be a life insurance agent. The law requires only that you pass the licensing exam for your state ad that you obtain an appointment with the company or companies of your choice. You don’t need formal education or experience although if you have had sales experience, it can help with developing your success story.

Have a focus
Insurance is a career with an extremely high turnover. The average new agent survives about 9 months. Of those who stick with it, only about 10% make the “dream” incomes of over $100,000. The reasons are varied, but the most common is probably simply a lack of focus. Successful insurance careers don’t usually happen overnight. It takes time to build your clientele of people who prefer to do business with you over the competition. And once you have your client list, it takes work to hang onto them and to keep getting referrals. Nevertheless, for those with a plan, the industry has high rewards.

Before spending a lot of money for your license, decide why you are choosing life insurance sales as your career? If you regard it as a job which you took because you couldn't find anything else, it may not be the career for you. If, however, you enjoy working with people and have a genuine desire to help them make financial and insurance decisions that are in their own best interests, you will find that life insurance is emotionally and financially rewarding.

The license
Each state licenses its own agents via a state exam following a 36 hour course of study that can be completed in a week long class, online, or in your own home with approved materials. When you purchase your materials, you have to indicate the line of insurance you want. Depending on the state, you may choose life only or life and health. Be aware, however, that many life insurance products have health components which require that you have a health producer’s license as well. As with all state exams, you must score at least a 70%, but you can take the test as many times as you need to—for a price, of course.

The appointment
Many agents begin their insurance careers as captive agents because of the support. Usually, if you work with a limited number of companies, you have more support in terms of materials; you have an office administrator who keys the applications to the home office, and you may have a bonus structure as part of your compensation.  Independent brokers and agents, on the other hand, often have higher commissions, a greater variety of products, and more freedom in advertising. Still, an independent also has much more administrative work and higher expenses. Either alternative can lead to a very successful career, so it’s really a matter of how labor intensive you want the career to be.

On the job training
Most companies will have training sessions and seminars to help you learn the products, although captive companies often have a more defined education program. The training involves a week or two in the office followed by a few weeks with a field trainer whom you will observe with actual clients. As soon as you can learn the presentations and become comfortable with your own appointments, you will be on your own.

Establishing you clients
The most challenging aspect of selling insurance is locating quality prospects. Some captive companies have a lead generation system for which they charge you a percentage of your commission. Most, however, expect you to buy leads, attend product fairs or conduct your own advertising. Many internet sites also sell leads, but check these out carefully as not all lead services are created equal.

Keeping your clients
Once you have made a sale and established a client, you have to work to keep him. When the economy is tight, clients may purchase on simply price, but most people value service and dependability and will pay a little more than your competition if you prove to be a good agent who can help them to understand the importance of value.
No one can promise you a successful career in insurance, but it is certainly achievable.  You will not be guaranteed a starting salary, but you will also have no limit on what you can make. You will find that the average person is severely underinsured, but it will be up to you to convince them that they need what you have to offer. You will also need to network with other agents, attend sales seminars and join trade organizations. As you develop your circle of associates, you will also grow your business.

A successful career in life insurance takes some creativity, a lot of commitment, and the sheer guts to ride through the slow times—which will come, by the way. However, if you develop a plan and stick with it, you will be able to achieve your dreams.

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