Crop insurance agents specialize in selling insurance policies to farmers, horse ranchers and other agribusiness people. They must possess basic knowledge of the various types of agricultural crops, and a sound understanding of insurance and risk management as they relate to crop production. A career as a crop insurance agent fits people with excellent salesmanship and college training in agricultural business.
Obtain Relevant Training
The best way to prepare yourself for this career is to pursue an associate degree in agribusiness with coursework in crop production. The program should enhance your knowledge of the agricultural processes involved in the production of cereal crops, technical crops and other crop types, and equip you with the principles of agriculture business. You can also get started with an undergraduate degree in business administration or sales and marketing.
Master the Skills
In an industry with private and government-subsidized agricultural insurance coverage, finding clients can be difficult. You need the self-motivation to, for instance, hold presentations about your employer’s products to farmers in rural areas, and the self-confidence to make cold sales calls to potential clients. When you finally land clients, you need analytical skills to evaluate information about their crop production activities, and decision-making skills to determine the right insurance policy for them. You also need clear communication skills to explain the details of the insurance policies to clients, and organizational skills to keep accurate documentation of client files.
You need to obtain a crop-hail and multiple-peril insurance agent license to sell the insurance policies of private insurers, as well as federal crop insurance policies administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency, or USDA RMA. Although licensing requirements vary by state, you generally need to have a high school diploma and pass a licensing examination on crop insurance regulations and practices.
The American Insurance Marketing and Sales Society also awards the Certified Professional Insurance Agent credential, which you can obtain after attending a series of seminars. The CPIA designation demonstrates professionalism and can boost your employment prospects.
As a licensed crop insurance agent, you can secure jobs in agricultural insurance companies, agricultural banks that sell insurance products, and insurance brokerages. If you work for a company that sells federal insurance, you will undergo additional on-the-job training, in compliance with the USDA RMA's requirements.
With vast experience as a crop insurance sales agent, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness to enhance your chances of becoming a crop insurance supervisor. Alternatively, with enough startup capital and business acumen, you can establish your own crop insurance brokerage.
The job site Indeed reports that crop insurance agents had an average annual salary of $41,000 as of March 2015.