If you’re interested in starting a new career as a health insurance broker, you’ll need to pass a licensing exam to earn your insurance license in either California or Nevada.
Before scheduling your license exam, you will want some training. In fact, California and Nevada require the completion of approved pre-licensing hours before you apply for a license. The required hours vary by license type. Both states require code and ethics hours for all licensees. For example, in California, a Life, Accident and Health, or Life, Accident, and Health license all require 32 hours of training, which includes 12 hours of Code & Ethics training. In Nevada, 40 hours of pre-license training is required, including ethics training.
You can select from a diverse roster of pre-licensing education providers to help you get ready for your exam and earn your required training hours. In California, the Department of Insurance (CDI) website lists more than two dozen resources. Nevada Division of Insurance (DOI) license candidates can look up pre-licensing education providers and review Frequently Asked Questions on the Nevada DOI website.
A background check and fingerprinting are both required in connection with an application for an insurance license. Details on California’s fingerprinting requirements are available on the agency’s website. Nevada has temporarily amended its fingerprinting requirements in response to current COVID-19 conditions. Updated FAQs can be found online.
The number of questions on your licensing exam varies by state and license type. For example, in California, the exam for a Life, Accident, and Health license includes 150 questions, as compared to 75 questions for a Life-Only Agent exam or an Accident and Health Agent exam. For a 75-question exam, California allows 1.5 hours for the test. For 150 questions, three hours are permitted.
In Nevada, according to Cameron Academy, one of the state’s pre-licensing vendors, the Accident and Health license exam includes 105 questions – 17 pre-test questions and 88 gradable questions. The allowable exam time is 2.25 hours. The Life/Health combination exam allows three hours and 35 minutes for 160 questions – 16 pre-test questions and 144 gradable questions.
Useful Exam Tips
Here are some helpful suggestions you might consider as you prepare for your licensing exam.
Read Every Answer
Don’t select the first response that looks correct – read all of your possible answers. You may find there’s another answer that is MORE correct. Never pick an answer you have not read or heard. The authors who write insurance exam questions have been known to make up words and use them in possible answers. If something is not covered in your pre-licensing training, it is not going to be a correct answer on a state insurance licensing exam. Remember, there’s always one best answer, although some others may seem to fit the question (or be partially correct).
Don’t Overthink the Questions
Your brain can rationalize anything, including reasons or situations where an incorrect answer might be correct. Pick out the one best answer and move on.
Watch Out for “Double Negative” Questions
Keep a sharp eye open 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?”)
If two answers mean the same thing, eliminate them both. You will have a 50/50 chance on the question.
If two answers are the exact opposite of one another, pick one of them. You now have a 50/50 chance on the question. Whatever is asked, if two answers contradict each other, just one of them is correct. That’s how a multiple-choice question works.
Treat each multiple-choice insurance exam question as if it were four “true/false” questions. Take each, individually, and ask, “Is this response true or false?” This technique can be useful in eliminating incorrect answers.
Eliminate Definitive Answers
Unless you know an answer is correct, eliminate answers with definitive words like:
Definitive words are problematic on a multiple-choice test. There is usually an exception to any rule! Go with answers that are less definitive and may include one of these words or terms:
- With the permission of
Do Not Focus Too Much on a Single Question
If you are not sure of an answer, either mark the question for review and come back to it later (after you finish the rest of the examination) or eliminate the responses you know are wrong. Then make your best guess. You could find another question on the exam later that provides the answer.
Don’t be afraid to guess, you can miss a few questions and still pass the exam! Do not review the full exam once you have completed it. If you do, you may get nervous, confused, start second-guessing yourself, and want to change your answers.
Go With Your Gut
This is the number one rule. Trust your instincts. If one answer feels or sounds right, pick it. If you have studied properly, that answer feels right for a reason. You may have read it in your online insurance license textbook, heard it in the audio, or seen it in a video.
Remember, you are trying to pass an examination, not win a speed-reading contest. You will have plenty of time to complete the exam, and there is no extra credit for finishing early. Many report having close to an hour remaining when they finish the exam. It is rare to run out of time.
On the Day of Your Exam
You must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. This allows for your check-in and identification verification; it also ensures you have time to familiarize yourself with the examination process.
If you arrive late, you may not be admitted to the examination site and you may forfeit your examination registration fee.
While candidates will be thumb-printed, you are still required to comply with identification requirements established by exam authorities. Be sure you take two forms of signature identification when you go for your test.
A driver’s license or passport is recommended as one ID; a debit card or credit card works as a second form of ID. Other forms of acceptable ID include a state ID Card, a current out-of-state license, passport card, military ID, employment authorization card, permanent resident card, or veteran health ID card with photo. Be sure whatever ID you bring is current (i.e., not expired).
There are sample license exam questions available online at InsuranceTests.com, AmericasProfessor.com, Chegg.com, Quizlet.com, and other sites.
While states vary in their approach, questions are often in one of three different formats: direct questions, incomplete sentences, and “all of the following except” questions (where you choose what does not fit with the others). For example, “All of following statements about (subject) are true, except . . . “ or “Which statement is not true regarding the underwriting of group health insurance?” or “Which of the following statements about health insurance is false?”.
A Word About Cheating: Don’t
Cheating on your state insurance licensing exam is a crime, punishable by law. That includes, in California, up to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Forms of cheating include but are not limited to the following:
- Open workbooks
- Cheat sheets
- Electronic devices not turned off (or away in bags/left in car)
- Removal of exam materials from a testing room
- Looking at another person’s computer monitor during the exam
- Gifts for examination proctors
- Using someone else’s ID (or having someone else take the exam for you)
- Reviewing study material in the restroom during examination
- Contact with another individual during a restroom break
- Leaving the room without notifying an exam proctor
Scheduling Your Exam
PSI Services LLC provides California regulatory licensure services and schedules examinations for individuals licensed by the CDI Producer Licensing Bureau. Information about scheduling examinations is on the PSI’s Examination Scheduling Service web page. Individuals may schedule their exams with PSI online or by telephone (877-392-6422).
Nevada license candidates must apply online through the Nevada Division of Insurance website. Once you have submitted your online application, you should log back in to the application system using your candidate transaction number to attach supporting documentation. Be sure you review all required materials and fees carefully before your submission. Licensing fees are not refundable. If you need help with your Nevada license application, call the DOI at 775-687-0700.
If you have questions about California licensing, call the Licensing Hotline at 800-967-9331, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific, or visit the CDI Licensing Hotline web page.
For additional information about Nevada licensing, visit the Division of Insurance website or call the Carson City office at 775-687-0700. If you’re in the Las Vegas area, call 702-486-4009.