It’s a new year, and you may be thinking about changing your sales focus or getting into health insurance sales for the first time.
To begin selling insurance in California or Nevada, you will first need to pass a test to get your Accident & Health Agent insurance license, which gives you the ability to sell health and related products.
How to Get Started
If you already have your insurance license, great. If not, you’ll want some training, since both California and Nevada require the completion of at least 20 hours of approved pre-licensing study. Additional hours may be required for certain license types. Insurance code and ethics training hours are also required.
In California, the Department of Insurance (CDI) website lists more than 30 education providers to help you prepare for your exam. Nevada license candidates can look up providers.
Be aware that a background check and fingerprinting are required in connection with your insurance license application. California resident fingerprinting information is available here; digital fingerprint information for Nevada is here.
Choice of License
In addition to a choice in the license type you want (i.e., health, life, accident, etc.), you also can choose to be licensed as an individual, as a business entity, or under a “doing business as” name. More information on California’s business entity application process is on the state website. Nevada producer licensing information is on the Division of Insurance web page.
California uses PSI Services, LLC, for the scheduling of insurance licensing exams. Information on the exam schedule is available on PSI’s web page. Scheduling is also available by telephone. PSI offers multiple exam times and locations. As of January 2020, there is a $33.00 convenience fee to take an examination at a PSI location, although that is subject change. This fee is in addition to the state fee charged for the exam and the fingerprinting fee. (Visit the State Requirement web page for more information.)
Nevada licensing information for business entities is summarized on the Division of Insurance website. Individual producer licensing information is available here. For additional information on the costs for various license types in Nevada, visit the State Requirement web page. To schedule a Nevada license exam after creating a Nevada DOI account, visit www.pearsonvue.com/nv/insurance.
Tips to Prepare for Your Exam
Here are some useful tips when you go to take your exam:
Read Each Available Answer
Don’t react too quickly and select the first response that looks right. There may be another answer that is more correct. The exam authors sometimes make up words that don’t exist and use them in possible answers. If something wasn’t covered in your training, it is not going to be a correct answer on the exam.
Beware of “Double Negative” Questions
Watch out for the words “not,” “except,” “unless,” and “until.” They may be printed in ALL CAPS, which means you have to look for a response that is NOT correct. For example, “None of the following are true EXCEPT . . .” or “Which of the following is NOT unethical?” Keep in mind, too, that double negative questions can be useful because they give you three true statements that could help you answer another question later in the exam.
Watch for Contradictory Answers
If two answers are the exact opposite of one another, pick one of them. You’ll have a 50/50 chance on the question. Whatever the question is asking, if two answers contradict each other, one of them is correct. That’s just how a multiple choice question works.
Avoid Too Much Time on a Single Question
If you are not sure of an answer, mark the question for review and come back to it – or eliminate the responses you know are wrong, and then make your best guess. It’s possible another question on the exam later will provide you with the answer.
Relax and Take It Easy
You are trying to pass an examination, not win a speed-reading contest. You will have plenty of time to complete the exam. More importantly, there is no extra credit for finishing early. Many report having close to an hour remaining when they finish. It is rare anyone runs out of time.
New California Requirement
If you’re going to be selling in California, one important change for 2020 that you need to be aware of is the new state individual mandate. It requires all Californians to have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) for all months of 2020. Residents who don’t have adequate coverage are subject to non-compliance penalties unless they have a valid exemption. The minimum penalty is $695 per adult plus $347.50 for underage dependents – up to 2.5% of a person’s taxable household income. More information is included in the Word & Brown feature, Important Employee References and Compliance Considerations in 2020, available in the Word & Brown Newsroom.
Independent or In Partnership
Once you earn your license, you need to decide whether you want to work as an independent agent (also called a broker), as an employee of an agency or company (perhaps as an in-house insurance sales rep at a financial institution), or in partnership with a general agent (GA).
When you work with a GA like Word & Brown, you can get help with back-office activities, so you can focus on moneymaking activities like prospecting and selling. We deliver industry-leading quoting, online enrollment, and an outstanding product and service portfolio backed by “Service of Unequalled Excellence.” We also offer Continuing Education courses to help you maintain your insurance license. Read our related blog post, Ease Your Burden, Build Your Business, with Help from a GA.
If you have questions about licensing in California, call the California Department of Insurance at (800) 967-9331 or go online. For information on Nevada licensing, visit the Division of Insurance website or call (888) 872-3234, (775) 687-0700 in Carson City, or (702) 486-4009 in Las Vegas.
To learn more about partnering with Word & Brown as your general agent, contact your nearest Word & Brown regional office or call (800) 869-6989.