Insurance Sales Agents
Insurance sales agents help families, individuals and companies choose appropriate insurance policies for protecting their lives, health and property. In the event of a loss, they also help their clients settle their insurance claims. They sell one or more types of insurance including life, health, long-term care, disability, and property and casualty.
Most insurance agents specialize in property and casualty or life and health insurance, although a growing number of "multiline" agents sell all lines of insurance. Sample job titles include insurance agent, insurance broker and underwriting sales representative. In addition, some insurance agents are self-employed.
The Internet has made obtaining quotes and processing applications easier and faster. The Internet has also made it easier for insurance agents to take on more clients. Due to the Internet people are increasingly getting insurance quotes from a company's web site and then directly contacting the company to buy insurance policies. This practice typically decreases the amount of time insurance agents spend looking for new clients.
Increasingly, insurance sales agents are providing their clients financial analysis and advice for minimizing risk. These services include estate planning, retirement planning and help in setting up pension plans for companies. These agents may become licensed to sell variable annuities, mutual funds and other types of securities. This practice is common among life insurance agents that already sell annuities, however many property and casualty insurance agents also sell financial products.
Captive agents are those that work exclusively for one insurance company. Independent insurance agents or brokers represent several insurance firms and help their clients select the insurance company that offers the best rate and coverage.
Property and casualty insurance agents sell insurance policies that provide protection to individuals and companies from financial loss resulting from fire, theft, storms, automobile accidents and other events that can damage property. Regarding businesses, property and casualty insurance policies can also cover product liability claims, injured workers' compensation or medical malpractice claims.
Life insurance agents sell insurance policies that pay beneficiaries when a policyholder dies. Life insurance agents also sell annuities that provide a retirement income.
Health insurance agents sell health insurance polices that cover the cost of medical care and also the loss of income due to injury or illness. They may also sell long-term and short-term disability insurance policies. Health insurance agents may also sell dental insurance.
- Find new clients
- In an event of a loss, help clients settle insurance claims
- Explain features and the advantages and disadvantages of various polices
- Stay current on issues concerning their clients
- Customize insurance programs to meet the needs of individual customers
- Obtain data about financial resources from prospective clients
- Make sure policy requirements are fulfilled
- Calculate premiums and establish a payment method
- Inspect property and decide if it is a good insurance risk
- Prepare reports and maintain records
Some insurance agents work alone or with just a few other people. Some independent agents or brokers spend some of their time traveling to meet with clients or investigate claims. Most insurance agents determine their own work schedule and often work in the evening and during the weekends in order to accommodate their client's schedules. Most agents work 40 hours per week and some agents work much longer.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a 12 percent employment growth for insurance sales agents between 2008 and 2018 which is about as fast as average for all occupations. Sales of health insurance, long-term care insurance and financial planning services designed specifically for senior citizens are expected to significantly increase as the population ages. In addition, insurance carriers are relying more on independent agents and brokers.
In 2008 the median annual earnings of wage and salary insurance sales agents was $45,430. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $113,930. In addition, many independent agents only receive commissions. Agents that are employees of an agency or an insurance carrier may be provided only a salary, or salary plus a commission or salary plus a bonus. In general, commissions are the most typical form of compensation, particularly for experienced agents.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Many companies and independent agencies seek candidates that have a college degree, particularly applicants that have majored in finance, economics or business. Some companies hire those with a high school diploma if they have proven sales ability. Experienced agents typically provide some training to new agents.
Many colleges provide courses in insurance and a few schools provide a bachelor's degree in the subject. In addition, knowledge of popular software packages has become important since computers allow agents to quickly get information on a wide array of financial products.
All agents that are involved in soliciting, selling or negotiating insurance are required to have a state issued license. Licensure requirements vary by state but they usually include some insurance related coursework along with passing several exams. Insurance agents that want to sell securities and other financial products need to acquire the proper licenses.
Numerous organizations provide professional designation programs that certify an agent's experience in specialties, including property and casualty insurance, health, life and financial consulting.
- National Association of Professional Insurance Agents
- Insurance Information Institute
- National Association of Health Underwriters
The top employers are insurance agencies and brokerages. Insurance carriers also provide jobs.
Schools for Insurance Sales Agents are listed in the Browse Schools Section.