If you have recently graduated from college and are looking to start your professional life, or you are considering a career change, you may have heard or read that insurance sales can be a lucrative career. The fact of the matter is, it is one of only a few careers offering individuals with little or no work or sales experience the opportunity to earn a potentially large paycheck quickly. However, before you jump into it, you might want to take a look at seven pros and cons of being a broker.
You have a lot of flexibility and you work on your own
If you choose to become an independent broker (sometimes also called an agent), you will have a lot of freedom and flexibility to do your job. You can work from your home, when you want, or you can set up your own office and select your office hours. (That contrasts with an in-house role, where you work in someone else’s office and follow a schedule set by them.) One thing to remember is your sales success is driven largely by your own efforts, so you need to commit to prospecting, quoting, enrolling, and servicing your customers in order to keep business on the books, although affiliating with a General Agent (GA) could relieve you of some of these responsibilities.
You will be helping people protect their future
One of the most satisfying aspects of being an insurance broker is the feeling you get by helping others find the right Health Insurance plan at the right price. Your work can mean the difference between whether a client can get coverage and protect their future health and financial security. You have the opportunity to build a career while making a positive contribution to the lives of those you serve.
You can earn a good income
Earnings vary by broker, and by region; however, the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says insurance sales agents across all experience levels had an average mean wage in California of $77,700 in 2017. More impressive is the $111,790 average mean wage for the Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, California, metropolitan area, a $99,020 average mean in the San Rafael, and a $103,580 average mean in the San Francisco/Redwood City/South San Francisco region. Don’t forget, too, that your retention of business can help you earn ongoing income for years from business written during your first years as a broker.
You can get support from a GA to make your role easier
Partnering with a GA can make a big difference in whether you’re able to focus your time on prospecting and selling versus performing insurance-related administrative tasks. Word & Brown has been a partner with brokers for more than 30 years. The organization’s value proposition is built around the idea that Word & Brown delivers more than great service; the company provides everything brokers need to be successful. Services include sales and quoting, enrollment and underwriting, broker (and employer) technology, one-stop account management for answers to all of your business-related questions, in-house compliance expertise, ongoing training and education, marketing support, and client extras (like COBRA, POP, and HR support). By working with Word & Brown, you’re able to hand-off some of your administrative functions and focus on sales.
Your earnings could vary
If you lack the dedication to put in the time necessary to identify potential prospects and nurture positive relations with your clients, you may not be successful as a broker. If you have a high-income requirement that is initially out of reach, you could become discouraged and not want to stay in the industry. Insurance sales are typically commission-based, so your income may be higher one month and lower in another. A lot of business is written in the fourth quarter, as employees gear up for coverage to begin in the first quarter of the following year. It is important you be able to attract new business, month after month, to ensure yourself of a steady income.
Being a broker requires some training – and a background check
Both California and Nevada require you to earn an insurance license, which includes completion of pre-license training and passing a license exam. In California, a minimum of 20 hours of study is required as well as 12 hours of code and ethics training. In Nevada, you are required to complete 20 hours of training for Life Insurance and 20 hours of training for Health Insurance. A background check entails a review of criminal offender record information (CORI) from the state where you apply and from the FBI. It includes fingerprinting for each applicant. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Regulatory Information Retrieval System (RIRS), state producer license database, and special activities database are also checked for possible disciplinary actions. If you have any blemishes on your record, your best career choice may be a different field.
Continuing Education is required to maintain your license
Both California and Nevada also require you to complete additional training to keep your insurance license. California requires 24 hours of Continuing Education (CE) hours (including three hours of ethics training) during each two-year license period. Nevada requires 30 hours of CE Credits, including three hours of ethics training, every three years.
Still Interested? Get Started Today!
Like with any career, there are pluses and minuses to being a Health Insurance broker. We believe the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. If you agree, and you want to explore your opportunities, visit the Word & Brown future broker web page, or contact any of our six offices in California and Nevada.
Health Insurance Broker
2020 Salary Guide
For a sneak peek at what you can expect to earn as an insurance agent, get a copy of our “Insurance Broker Salary Guide.”