Insurance Career

Nature of the Work
Insurance agents sell one or more types of insurance, such as life, property, casualty, health, disability, and long-term care (Edwards, 1999, A12). Agents sell insurance policies to individuals and businesses to provide protection against loss or catastrophe. Insurance agents consider the financial status and life situation of their clients, and assist them in selecting their optimal insurance policy. Some policies can be designed to provide retirement income, funds for the education of children, or other benefits (Edwards, 1999, A12).
Insurance agents prepare reports, maintain records, and they help policyholders to settle insurance claims (Abraham & Herman, 1998). Special in-group policies may help employers provide their employees the opportunity to buy insurance through payroll deductions (Abraham & Herman, 1998). Agents may work for one company or independently for several companies (Abraham & Herman, 1998). Brokers do not sell for a particular company, but direct their clients to companies that offer the best rate and coverage (Abraham & Herman, 1998).
Life insurance agents and brokers are sometimes referred to as life underwriters (Abraham & Herman, 1998). Property and casualty insurance agents and brokers sell policies that protect individuals and businesses from financial loss, as a result of automobile accidents, fire or theft, tornadoes and storms, and other events that can damage property (Edwards, 1999, A13). Property and casualty insurance can also sell health insurance policies to businesses that cover the costs of hospital and medical care for their employees (Edwards, 1999, A13). Increasingly, insurance agents and brokers offer comprehensive financial planning services to their clients, such as retirement planning counseling (Edwards, 1999, A13). Because of this, many insurance agents and brokers are licensed to sell mutual funds and other securities (Edwards, 1999, A13).
Education and Training Requirements
College training may help agents or brokers grasp the technical aspects of insurance policies and the fundamentals and procedures of selling insurance (Abraham & Herman, 1998). Many colleges and universities offer courses in insurance, and a few schools offer a bachelor’s degree in insurance (Abraham & Herman, 1998). College courses in finance, mathematics, accounting, economics, business law, government, and business administration enable insurance agents or brokers to understand how social, marketing, and economic conditions relate to the insurance industry (Abraham & Herman, 1998). Changes in tax laws, government benefit programs, and other State and Federal regulations can affect the insurance needs of clients and how agents conduct business (Abraham & Herman, 1998). Courses in psychology, sociology, and public speaking can prove useful in improving sales techniques (Abraham & Herman, 1998). The use of computers to provide instantaneous information on a wide variety of financial products has greatly improved agents’ and brokers’ efficiency and enabled them to devote more time to clients’ needs (Abraham & Herman, 1998).
Insurance agents and brokers must obtain a license in the states where they plan to sell insurance. By law, licenses are issued only to applicants who complete specified courses and then pass written examinations covering insurance fundamentals and insurance laws (Edwards, 1999, A13). Agents who plan to sell mutual funds and other securities must also obtain a separate securities license (Edwards, 1999, A13). Most states also have mandatory education requirements focusing on insurance laws, consumer protection, and the technical details of various insurance policies (Vault.com, 1999). The Degree requirements include Certification from the National Association of Securities Dealers or the Securities and Exchange Commission (Vault.com, 1999).
Entry Level Description
An insurance agent\'s success is contingent upon his or her ability to seek out and retain clients, and on the agent\'s reputation among colleagues. Difficulty in developing a client base is what drives many insurance agents from the field within the first six months, as well as the low salary (Abraham & Herman, 1998). An insurance agent must be outgoing and organized, and cannot be creative or sensitive (Vault.com, 1999). An entry-level insurance agent will have to endure long hours and may have high level of dissatisfaction and stress. On the other hand, the agent might enjoy the independence that comes with the job and there are strong advancement opportunities. New agents usually receive training in a classroom setting at pre-licensing schools conducted by State insurance agents’ associations or at the home or branch offices of the insurance company (Abraham & Herman, 1998). Often they attend company-sponsored classes to