How to Get Your Insurance License
If you’re interested in becoming a health insurance agent, one of the first things you need to do is take the licensing exam required by your state regulator. In California, that’s the California Department of Insurance (DOI). In Nevada, it’s the Nevada Division of Insurance (a part of the Department of Business and Industry).
Below are six steps that put you well on way to your new career.
STEP 1: DECIDE WHICH INSURANCE LICENSE YOU WANT TO GET
You will need a license in every state where you do business. You can choose a business entity or individual license. In California, there are more than 30 types of license classifications issued by the Producer Licensing Bureau in the Department of Insurance. If you’ll be selling health insurance, you’ll need an Accident and Health Agent (A&H) license or a Full Life Agent license (which includes Life, Accident, and Health).
With an A&H license, you are generally allowed authority in California to sell products offering coverage for sickness, bodily injury, or accidental death (that may include disability income benefits). The licensee may also transact 24-hour care coverage and Long Term Care insurance. (Details on the California A&H license can be found here. The complete list of California producer license types is available here.)
In Nevada, you can earn a Producer License, which is also available on an individual or business entity basis. Details on Nevada licensing can be found here.
STEP 2: COMPLETE FINGERPRINTING
Individuals applying for a license in many states must furnish a complete set of fingerprints, which may be shared with law enforcement authorities, including a state repository for criminal records and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. California and Nevada both require fingerprinting prior to taking the license examination – even before submitting your license application.
Here are the California guidelines on fingerprinting:
• If you would like to have your fingerprint impressions taken before your license examination, you may schedule your fingerprint impressions using the California Department of Insurance (CDI) contracted fingerprint vendor by calling Accurate Biometrics at (866) 361-9944, to find a fingerprint location near you. When you go to have your fingerprint impressions made, please take with you a completed Live Scan Request, form LIC 442-39A.
• At the time you take the license examination at the designated site, you may also have your fingerprint impressions made.
• While it is subject to change, the current total processing fee for the fingerprint impressions taken at the exam site is $58.30, which includes the FBI processing fee of $17.00, Department of Justice (DOJ) processing fee of $32.00, and the CDI’s contractor’s rolling fee of $9.30. An applicant may pay by money order, cashier’s check, personal check, or credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover Card). Cash is not accepted.
• At PSI test centers, the fingerprint vendor will also have an authorized technician available to complete the fingerprint impression requirement. At these facilities, the total processing fee for the fingerprint impressions taken is $68.95, which includes the FBI processing fee of $17.00, DOJ processing fee of $32.00, and a rolling fee of $19.95. The $68.95 fee is to be paid at the PSI test center. Payment may be made via VISA or MasterCard or money order, cashier’s check, or company check payable to PSI. Personal checks and cash are not accepted at PSI’s test centers.
• The DOJ maintains a listing of authorized Live Scan Fingerprinting Vendors available to California resident license applicants.
Applicants using a vendor on this list will need to pay a fingerprint fee that covers the following services: FBI processing fee of $17.00, DOJ processing fee of $32.00, and an additional rolling fee charged by the DOJ-authorized vendor. The rolling fee will vary depending on the vendor and is noted on DOJ’s listing of authorized Live Scan Fingerprinting Vendors. License applicants are encouraged to contact the Live Scan provider in advance to verify current operating hours, location, fees, and the acceptable method of payment.
More information on fingerprinting for California resident licensing can be found here.
In Nevada, all individuals applying for a resident license must furnish a complete set of fingerprints and attach a completed Fingerprint Background Waiver to the application.
Applicants must pay a processing and agency fee for this service. Applicants may have their fingerprints taken by a law enforcement agency or authorized vendor.
LiveScan Digital Fingerprints, also used in California, is the preferred resource for fingerprint processing. LiveScan Digital Fingerprinting services are also conveniently available through Pearson VUE, the Nevada resource for testing. (See below.) Applicants may register to have fingerprints taken at the same time they register for the Nevada state exam. Although subject to change, the current LiveScan fingerprinting fee is $36.25 plus the vendor’s processing fee. Applicants will be provided a receipt that indicates the date the prints were submitted to the Nevada Criminal History Records Repository. An applicant must provide the receipt to the Nevada Division of Insurance upon request.
Applicants who utilize hard copy fingerprint cards may experience delays due to the time required to manually process a paper filing. They must also provide a money order or cashier’s check in the amount of $36.25 made payable to the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Hard copy prints must include the printed name, signature, address, Social Security Number, date of birth, place of birth, weight, height, sex, hair color, citizenship, and home and business addresses of the person being fingerprinted as well as the date fingerprinted and signature of official taking fingerprints.
Nevada fingerprint reservations may be made by calling 1-866-761-8069. More information on fingerprinting for Nevada resident licensing can be found here.
STEP 3: PREPARE FOR YOUR INSURANCE LICENSING TEST
California requires a minimum of 20 hours of approved pre-licensing study. A new resident applicant who had a current Accident and Health license in another state within the last 90 days and has a current non-resident license in California – or an applicant holding a Life Underwriter Training Council Fellowship (LUTCF), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS), Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI), Health Insurance Associate (HIA), Registered Employee Benefits Consultant (REBC) or Registered Health Underwriter (RHU) designation – is exempt from the 20 hours of pre-licensing education.
California also requires 12 hours of approved pre-licensing on code and ethics.
Nevada has a similar requirement. Candidates must satisfactorily complete an approved course of education (of 20 hours) in each field of insurance for which they plan to be licensed.
STEP 4: TAKE YOUR TEST
You must be at least 18 years of age and you must pass your state’s resident or non-resident licensing exam to earn a license. The exam is multiple choice, closed book.
In California, PSI Services, LLC, a California-based company providing state-based regulatory licensure services, handles the scheduling of examinations for individuals. Individuals may schedule their examinations with PSI either online or by telephone. PSI offers more than 20 sites statewide where individuals may take their qualifying license examination and provide the required fingerprints. (More information on PSI is available here. More about the California application process can be found here.)
In Nevada, Pearson VUE is the Insurance Division’s only authorized testing vendor. Appointments may be made up to one calendar day prior to the day you wish to test, subject to availability. You can review the Pearson VUE scheduling options for Nevada here. Testing times vary from about two hours to about three and one-half hours, depending on the license for which you’re applying.
On the day of the exam, you’ll want to arrive 20 to 30 minutes early and bring two forms of identification (ID) that include a signature. Your name on the ID must exactly match the name on your registration. The primary identification must be government-issued and photo-bearing ID with a signature, and the secondary identification must also contain a valid signature. (Identification must be in English.)
Generally, acceptable, non-expired primary IDs (with photograph and signature) include:
• Government-issued Driver’s License
• U.S. Dept. of State Driver’s License
• U.S. Learner’s Permit (plastic card only with photo and signature)
• National/State/Country ID card
• Passport Card
• Military ID
• Military ID for spouses and dependents
Acceptable, non-expired secondary IDs (with a signature) include:
• U.S. Social Security card
• Debit (ATM) or credit card
• Any form of ID on the primary ID list above
STEP 5: GETTING BONDED/E&O COVERAGE
After you’ve earned your license, you will need to secure professional liability insurance, also known as Errors & Omissions (E&O) coverage. This insurance protects you in your role as an advisor to your customers – in the event a negligence claim is made in connection with your client service. CalSurance® offers affordable E&O to Word & Brown brokers, and it takes just minutes to apply. Ask us for details, or go here for more information.
STEP 6: CONTINUING EDUCATION
After you’ve earned your license, you usually need to earn Continuing Education Credits to maintain it. In California, you’re required to satisfactorily complete approved courses or programs of instruction or attend seminars equivalent to 24 hours of instruction during each two-year license period, including at least three hours of ethics training, before your license can be renewed.
Nevada requires 30 hours of Continuing Education Credits every three years, including three hours of ethics courses.
Word & Brown, our carrier partners, and the state and regional health underwriter associations offer a variety of CE courses throughout the year to help you meet your mandated licensing renewal requirements. To get information on courses, recorded webinars, and events, visit the Word & Brown Newsroom.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
Word & Brown is committed to helping individuals who want to enter the exciting – and evolving – world of health insurance sales. To learn more about how you can get started, visit our Future Brokers webpage or contact any of our six regional offices in California and Nevada.
If you are interested in using an online course to prepare for your license exam, Word & Brown offers a 20% discount through the Mike Russ Financial Training Centers; ask us for details.
Health Insurance Broker
For a sneak peek at what you can expect to earn as an insurance agent, get a copy of our “Insurance Broker Salary Guide.”