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Become A Life Insurance Agent

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Working As A Life Insurance Agent

  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $67,978

    Average Salary

What Does A Life Insurance Agent Do

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance. Insurance sales agents explain various insurance policies and help clients choose plans that suit them.

Duties

Insurance sales agents typically do the following:

  • Call potential clients in order to expand their own customer base
  • Interview prospective clients to get information about their financial resources and discuss existing coverage
  • Explain the features of various policies
  • Analyze clients’ current insurance policies and suggest additions or other changes
  • Customize insurance programs to suit individual clients
  • Handle policy renewals
  • Maintain electronic and paper records

Insurance sales agents commonly sell one or more types of insurance, such as property and casualty, life, health, and long-term care insurance.

Property and casualty insurance agents sell policies that protect people and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, and other events that can damage property. For businesses, property and casualty insurance also covers workers’ compensation claims, product liability claims, or medical malpractice claims.

Life insurance agents specialize in selling policies that pay beneficiaries when a policyholder dies. Life insurance agents also sell annuities that promise a retirement income.

Health and long-term care insurance agents sell policies that cover the costs of medical care and assisted-living services in old age. They also may sell dental insurance and short-term and long-term disability insurance.

Agents may specialize in any one of these products or function as generalists providing multiple products.

An increasing number of insurance sales agents offer their clients—especially those approaching retirement—comprehensive financial-planning services. Such services include retirement planning, estate planning, and help in setting up pension plans for businesses. In addition to offering insurance, these agents may become licensed to sell mutual funds, variable annuities, and other securities. This practice is most common with life insurance agents who already sell annuities, but many property and casualty agents also sell financial products. For more information on agents who sell financial products, see the profile on securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents.

Many agents spend a lot of time marketing their services and creating their own base of clients. They do this in a variety of ways, including making “cold” sales calls to people who are not current clients.

Potential clients often use comparison shopping tools online to learn about different policies and obtain information from insurance companies. Clients can either purchase a policy directly from the website or contact the company to speak with a sales agent.

Insurance agents also find new clients through referrals by current clients. Keeping clients happy so that they recommend the agent to others is a key to success for insurance sales agents.

Insurance agents may work for a single insurance company or an insurance brokerage.

Captive agents are insurance sales agents who work exclusively for one insurance company. They can only sell policies provided by the company that employs them.

Independent insurance agents work for insurance brokerages, selling the policies of several companies. They match insurance policies for their clients with the company that offers the best rate and coverage.

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How To Become A Life Insurance Agent

Although most employers require agents to have a high school diploma, many agents have a bachelor’s degree. Agents must be licensed in the states where they work.

Education

A high school diploma is the typical requirement for insurance sales agents, although a bachelor’s degree can improve one’s job prospects. Public-speaking classes can be useful in improving sales techniques, and often agents will have taken courses in business, finance, or economics. Business knowledge is also helpful for sales agents hoping to advance to a managerial position.

Training

Insurance sales agents learn many of their job duties on the job from other agents. Many employers have new agents shadow an experienced agent. This practice allows the new agent to learn how to conduct the company’s business and to understand how the agency interacts with clients.

Employers also are increasingly placing greater emphasis on continuing professional education as the variety of financial products sold by insurance sales agents grows. Changes in tax laws, government benefits programs, and other state and federal regulations can affect the insurance needs of clients and the way in which agents conduct business. Agents can enhance their selling skills and broaden their knowledge of insurance and other financial services by taking courses at colleges and universities or by attending conferences and seminars sponsored by insurance organizations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Insurance sales agents must have a license in the states where they work. Separate licenses are required for agents to sell life and health insurance and property and casualty insurance. In most states, licenses are issued only to applicants who complete specified courses and who pass state exams covering insurance fundamentals and state insurance laws. Most state licensing authorities also require agents to take continuing education courses focusing on insurance laws, consumer protection, ethics, and the technical details of various insurance policies.

As the demand for financial-planning services increases, many agents also choose to get licensed and certified to sell securities and other financial products. Licensing and certification requires substantial study time to pass an additional exam—either the Series 6 or Series 7 licensing exam, both of which are administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The Series 6 exam is for agents who want to sell only mutual funds and variable annuities. The Series 7 exam is the main FINRA series license, which qualifies agents as general securities sales representatives.

A number of organizations offer certifications that show an agent’s expertise in insurance specialties. These certifications are not required for employment, but they can give job candidates an advantage over other applicants. Certifications also can be a source of continuing education credit. For details on specific designations, contact The Institutes and The American College of Financial Services.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Insurance sales agents must evaluate the characteristics of each client to determine the appropriate insurance policy.

Communication skills. Insurance sales agents must be able to communicate effectively with customers by listening to their requests and suggesting suitable policies.

Initiative. Insurance sales agents need to actively seek out new customers to maintain a flow of commissions.

Self-confidence. Insurance sales agents should be confident when making “cold” calls (calls to prospective customers who have not been contacted before). They must speak clearly and persuasively and maintain their composure if rejected.

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Life Insurance Agent Jobs

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Life Insurance Agent Career Paths

Life Insurance Agent
Account Executive Territory Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Loan Officer Real Estate Agent Insurance Sales Agent
Agency Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Sales Agent Sales Manager Branch Manager
Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Account Manager Account Executive
Business Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Insurance Sales Agent Account Manager Client Services Manager
Client Relationship Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales Manager Territory Sales Manager Unit Manager
Collections Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Sales Consultant Territory Sales Manager
Commercial Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Personal Banker Underwriter Commercial Lines Underwriter
Commercial Lines Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Sales Manager Branch Manager Territory Sales Manager
Commercial Sales Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Insurance Sales Agent Sales Agent Inside Sales Representative
Inside Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Finance Advisor Operations Manager Sales Consultant
Internet Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Loan Officer Inside Sales Representative Director, Inside Sales
Lead Generator
5 Yearsyrs
Sales Agent Account Executive Recruiter
Recruitment Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Senior Sales Representative Account Executive
Regional Accounts Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Office Manager General Manager Account Executive
Regional Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Senior Account Manager Account Executive
Relationship Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Finance Advisor Finance Analyst Account Manager
Sales Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Account Executive
Sales/Marketing
5 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Sales Manager
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Business Development Manager Business Development Director
Vice President, Business Development
13 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Life Insurance Agent?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Do you work as a Life Insurance Agent?

Life Insurance Agent Demographics

Gender

Male

50.5%

Female

46.9%

Unknown

2.5%
Ethnicity

White

57.9%

Hispanic or Latino

19.0%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

8.1%

Unknown

3.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.5%

French

6.7%

Hmong

4.3%

German

3.8%

Mandarin

3.3%

Chinese

2.9%

Japanese

2.9%

Vietnamese

2.4%

Russian

2.4%

Cantonese

1.9%

Carrier

1.9%

Italian

1.9%

Portuguese

1.9%

Greek

1.4%

Tagalog

1.4%

Hindi

1.4%

Romanian

1.0%

Korean

1.0%

Polish

1.0%

Arabic

1.0%
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Life Insurance Agent Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

24.2%

Kaplan University

7.3%

Ashford University

5.8%

Pennsylvania State University

5.4%

Temple University

5.0%

Strayer University

4.6%

Liberty University

4.6%

California State University - East Bay

4.2%

West Virginia University

4.2%

Georgia State University

3.8%

Grand Canyon University

3.8%

Brigham Young University

3.5%

American InterContinental University

3.5%

Fresno City College

3.1%

East Tennessee State University

3.1%

San Diego State University

3.1%

University of Alabama

2.7%

University of South Florida

2.7%

San Francisco State University

2.7%

University of Southern Mississippi

2.7%
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Majors

Business

33.7%

Accounting

5.7%

Psychology

5.7%

Insurance

5.5%

Management

4.8%

Finance

4.6%

Communication

4.4%

Marketing

4.3%

Criminal Justice

4.0%

Health Care Administration

4.0%

Nursing

2.8%

General Studies

2.8%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Biology

2.3%

English

2.3%

Political Science

2.3%

Education

2.2%

Computer Science

2.2%

Economics

2.0%

Legal Support Services

2.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.4%

Other

29.9%

Associate

12.1%

Masters

10.0%

Certificate

5.1%

License

1.8%

Diploma

1.6%

Doctorate

1.1%
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Top Skills for A Life Insurance Agent

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  1. Financial Situations
  2. Life Insurance Products
  3. New Clients
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assess client requirements and financial situations by scheduling fact-finding appointments and conducting a needs analysis.
  • Managed and solicited various life insurance products.
  • Prospected for new clients and arranged initial meetings to begin gathering information about clients' financial security needs and goals.
  • Helped lead the Austin General office to the #1 general office in the New York Life organization for 2012.
  • Modeled exceptional customer service skills and appropriate diagnostic sales techniques.

How Would You Rate Working As a Life Insurance Agent?

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