Insurance is something that we’ll all need for one reason or another. It gives us mental as well as financial peace in the event that something unfortunate should happen to us or our belongings. If you’re a person that people can readily trust, that friends turn to when they need assurance, then maybe a career as an insurance agent is something you should invest in.
Insurance Agent Job Responsibilities
In the insurance business sales agents are known as “producers.” Their job is to sell a variety of insurance such as life, health, property and casualty, long-term care, and disability. Property and casualty insurance is useful to safeguard businesses and individuals from financial loss from automobile accidents, theft, fire, storms, and any other events that can cause damage to property. In the case of businesses, this kind of insurance covers product liability claims, injured workers’ compensation, or medical malpractice claims.
In addition to selling insurance, insurance agents also maintain records, prepare reports, and look for new clients. If a policy holder should experience a loss, agents assist them with settling their insurance claims. Agents working only for a single insurance company are known as captive agents. Captive agents usually have a contract agreement with the carrier, and are typically an employee of that carrier. “Freelance” insurance agents, also known as brokers, act mostly as liaisons of sorts who represent a number of companies. Their job is to pair policies for their clients with the company that can give them the best coverage and rate.
Insurance Agent Training and Education Requirements
A majority of independent agencies and companies like to hire college graduates, especially those who have majored in economics, business, or finance. Agencies might even hire high school graduates if they have demonstrated sales ability or have been successful in other types of related work.
College courses can assist agents to grasp the technical aspects of insurance policies as well as the basics of the insurance industry. Some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in the field, and several universities and colleges have insurance classes. Courses that allow prospective agents to comprehend how economic and social conditions relate to the insurance industry are mathematics, finance, business law, accounting, marketing, and economics. Sociology, psychology, and public speaking are also useful weapons to have if you want to sharpen sales techniques.
Insurance Agent Salary and Wages
In May 2008 the median annual wages of salary and wage insurance sales agents were $45,430. The middle fifty percent made between $33,070 and $68,730. The lowest ten percent earned $26,120 or less, while the highest ten percent earned more than $113,930. In May 2008 the median annual wages in the two industries employing the largest number of sales agents were $48,150 for insurance carriers, and $44,450 for brokerages, agencies, and other activities related to insurance.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Several independent agents are only paid by commission, whereas employees who are sales workers of an insurance carrier or agency may be paid in one of three ways: salary plus bonus, salary plus commission, or salary only. Commissions are usually the most common form of payment, and that’s especially true of experienced agents. The amount of commission is determined by the amount and type of insurance sold and whether or not the sale was a renewal or a new policy. Agents are awarded bonuses when they meet their sales goals or when the agency meets its profit goals.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Insurance Agent Certifications
Agents find it advantageous to demonstrate competency by earning the certified financial planner or chartered financial consultant designation. The Certified Financial Planner credential, administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, calls for relevant experience, completion of education prerequisites, successful completion of a comprehensive exam, and adhering to an enforceable code of ethics.
The Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designations, issued by the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, usually require professional experience as well as the insurance agent completing an eight-course program of study. The American College offers the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (FUTCF), an introductory course that imparts fundamental insurance concepts to those fresh to the industry. A great deal of casualty and property insurance agents receive the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation, offered by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter.
Insurance Agent Professional Associations
The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents was founded in 1931 and is an organization that represents independent Professional Insurance Agents in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. They are committed to educating owners of agencies and staff about insurance concepts, keeping agents up-to-date regarding changing company offerings, allowing agents to help one another in the proper underwriting of their business, and advocating agents in legislative matters.
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors is committed to the advocacy for “a positive legislative and regulatory environment, enhance business and professional skills, and promote the ethical conduct of our members.”
The members of NAIFA concentrate their practices on life insurance and annuities, investments, and financial advising as well as health insurance and employee benefits.