How Do I Get an Insurance License?

Research what it takes to obtain and maintain an insurance license. Learn about the duties of this job, the education requirements and salary range to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Risk Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Licensed Insurance Professional Do?

There are several different insurance jobs that require a license. For instance, all insurance sales agents must be licensed. These professionals sell insurance policies to clients. They may work for a single company selling a single type of insurance, such as health insurance or car insurance; these insurance agents are called captive agents. In contrast, independent insurance agents sell policies from multiple companies as part of insurance brokerages. They match up companies and clients based on individual needs and qualifications. In some states, claims adjusters, examiners and inspectors need to be licensed. Adjusters evaluate property damage in order to determine how much the insurance company should pay out after an incident. Appraisers estimate the monetary value of insured items, such as cars or houses. Examiners usually work at life or health insurance companies, where they are responsible for reviewing claims made by clients in order to ensure that the appropriate payout is made. If they suspect fraud, the case may be turned over to an insurance investigator, who more closely examines claims in order to figure out if there was any criminal activity involved.

The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Education Required High school diploma
Training Required On-the-job training
Key ResponsibilitiesEvaluate customers' insurance needs, sell and renew appropriate coverage, settle policyholder claims
Licensure All states require insurance agents to be licensed in the state in which they're employed
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (for all insurance sales agents)*
Mean Salary (2015) $64,790 (for all insurance sales agents)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do I Need an Insurance License?

Insurance licensing is managed by each state's regulatory department, with reciprocity between states in some cases. Licensing falls under two broad categories: producing and adjusting. Requirements vary by state, so you may need to contact the licensing board of the state you wish to work in to verify your need for a license.

Producing, or selling, insurance is virtually always licensed, and surety bonds may also be required. In some states, if you are working for an insurance company in either capacity (producing or adjusting), you may be covered under the company's license and not need to obtain one individually.

Claims adjusters, appraisers and investigators who work for a company are frequently covered by the company's license, but public adjusters are generally required to hold their own, and may be required to hold a surety bond. Whether you are personally required to have a license or not, you will likely need to take continuing education (CE) credits to maintain licensing for you or your employer.

How Can I Get a License?

While each state maintains its own insurance license guidelines, you usually need to fill out an application form and be at least 18 years old. Some states require you to take specific courses prior to taking a licensing exam, while others only require the exam itself. Some states may allow you an exemption from taking the exam if you have a professional designation or certification. Generally, there is a fee for taking the exam.

In some states, you must not have a record of violating laws or regulations which would affect your ability or trustworthiness to hold a license. If you are looking to hold a license as an owner of a business, you may be required to meet business incorporation standards and maintain current registration. Licenses are available for various types of insurances, and you may be able to hold more than one type of license at a time.

How Do I Maintain My License?

In most cases, insurance licenses must be renewed every two years. Most states require that you take yearly CE courses, write articles or lecture on insurance topics to retain a license. If you allow the license to expire, there is typically a limited time period after expiration when you can renew your credential. If you allow the license to expire and this time period to lapse, you may need to reapply and go through the initial exams again.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are looking for a job in the insurance industry that does not require a license, you could consider becoming a claims and policy processing clerk. Your job would be to review insurance applications, interview applicants with any questions, make changes where necessary and cancel policies when requested. The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma. Alternatively, instead of becoming an insurance sales agent, you could consider becoming an advertising sales agent. Instead of selling insurance policies, you would sell advertising space in online and print publications. You need to have a high school diploma for this job, but no license is required.

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