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Insurance agents are primarily salespeople with licenses to sell different types of insurance products, such as health, property and casualty, and life insurance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you only need a high school diploma to pursue a career in insurance sales. However, a bachelor’s degree may help increase your job prospects, especially if you take courses such as finance, business and public speaking. Each state has its own requirements for obtaining a property and casualty license.
Find Your State Requirements
The first step in getting your license to sell property and casualty insurance is to find out the requirements for taking the exam in your state. Contact your state insurance commissioner’s office – information on which you can find at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Courses will cover the basics for commercial and personal lines of insurance, including how much protection is required by state laws. In some states, such as New York, you may be able to forgo the pre-licensing courses if you have a statement from an employer verifying work experience that prepares you to take the test. Missouri allows agents with active licenses from other states to take the exam without taking pre-licensing courses.
Study for the State Exam
Prior to sitting for the state exam, you’ll be able to find a number of study aides to help you pass the test. For example, in North Carolina and many other states, Pearson VUE is contracted to deliver the state’s property and casualty insurance license test and sells study guides and practice tests, which potential agents are encouraged to use. Study guides will help you gauge the questions pertaining to topics like new car versus used car options, how much liability insurance doctors need and what levels of workers' compensation employers must carry. Many prospective P&C agents already have a job with an insurance company before becoming agents – often working with a mentor first. Your licensed insurance mentor can be one of the most valuable sources of training for the test.
Pay Your Dues and Take the Test
Sign up for the test that’s required by your state. You’ll likely be asked to produce evidence of the coursework you took as well as identification. You’ll also pay the required fee prior to taking the test. Fees vary from state to state; for example, in North Carolina, it costs $46 to take the test. Tests cover your knowledge of state insurance laws as they pertain to property and casualty insurance fundamentals. Additionally, for $5, you can register with the National Insurance Producer Registry once you pass the test. Employers often rely on this national registry to verify a person's credentials. National registration can also help you apply for a license in other states without taking extra classes.
Keep Your License Current
Once you obtain your property and casualty insurance license, you need to keep it current. Again, state rules vary, but most states require that you take continuing education courses to keep up with changes in insurance laws, ethics, technical details and consumer protection. Additionally, the length of time your license is valid also varies. In New York and Missouri, for example, insurance licenses must be renewed every two years.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."