What Is the Job Description of a Life Insurance Agent?

Do you enjoy helping people become financially prepared for the unexpected? Are you comfortable working independently and making sales presentations to individuals in all types of settings? If so, a job as a life insurance agent might interest you. Life insurance agents represent one or more insurance companies that provide life, retirement, and other insurance policies. Read on to learn more about a career as a life insurance agent. Schools offering Risk Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

As a life insurance agent, your primary objective will be selling life insurance policies and annuities and helping your clients promptly process their insurance claims when needed. Individuals purchase a life insurance policy and, upon their death, their designated beneficiary receives the amount of money stated in the policy. Depending on the type of insurance, the policy may have a cash value that the policyholder can access for certain situations, including retirement. An annuity is a financial investment tool that provides policyholders with a pre-determined monthly income upon reaching a certain age.

You may work as a captive insurance agent, meaning you work exclusively for one insurance company. Or, you may work as an insurance broker, offering clients a choice of policies from various insurance companies. Life insurance products typically include term life and whole life policies.

As a life insurance agent, you'll seek new clients and maintain relationships with existing ones. You'll be the first contact for your policyholders when they need to file a claim, and you must respond quickly and professionally. You may spend a lot of your time meeting with clients and making presentations, but you'll also keep regular office hours. Strong computer skills are a must, since agents are required to manage clients, track policies, research information, collect data, and pursue leads for new clients.

Important Facts About Life Insurance Agents

Required Education High school diploma, or equivalent
Licensing Vary by state; national database available through the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR)
Work Environment Office settings or traveling to meet with clients
Similar Occupations Sales manager, advertising sales agents, insurance underwriters, personal financial advisors, real estate brokers and sales agents, wholesale and manufacturing sales representative

Education and Training

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), insurance companies prefer agents who possess a bachelor's degree in business administration, finance, or a similar major. Previous sales experience is also helpful. A state license is required to sell insurance. This generally involves completion of training courses and passing examinations. Each type of insurance requires its own state license. To renew your state license, you may have to complete continuing education courses. This will allow you to remain informed about the latest requirements, changes, and trends in the industry. Also, speaking more than one language will be helpful in expanding your client base.

To improve your career opportunities, you may want to consider earning credentials that affirm your expertise in a particular type of insurance. Several industry associations offer training programs and credentials. The American College offers the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) credential. To earn this designation, you'll need to take a series of courses such as the insurance planning fundamentals, life insurance law, retirement planning, and investments. The American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters offers several courses and designations for all types of insurance. For example, the institute's life insurance course will teach you how to effectively use life insurance policies as financial planning tools. You'll also learn how to explain the benefits of life insurance policies to your clients.

The Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow is another credential available. It offers courses such as annuity essentials, life insurance products, investment planning, and ethics.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

When starting out as a life insurance agent, you may be required to meet a sales quota, but with experience and success you'll earn a commission from each policy you sell and renew. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for insurance agents was $63,730 in May 2014. Job openings for insurance agents between 2014 and 2024 are expected to increase by just over 9%, according to the BLS.

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