If you’re considering a new career, or you’re a recent college graduate looking to start your professional life, one field you might consider is Life Insurance and Health Insurance sales. It’s one of the few careers offering individuals with little or no work or sales experience the opportunity to earn a potentially large paycheck quickly. It also offers you the chance to be independent, set your own hours, and work where and when you choose.
So, you may be asking, what are the steps to becoming a licensed insurance agent?
Training and Licensing
If you want to sell Life, Health, or other types of insurance in California and Nevada, you first need to obtain a license from the California Department of Insurance or the Nevada Division of Insurance. In California, you can choose from more than 30 types of licenses, but the most common licenses for those who want to sell Life and/or Health Insurance are Accident and Health Agent, Life Agent, and Life-Only Agent. In Nevada, a similar number of license types is available, but most agents and brokers interested in selling Life and Health apply for a Producer License (as a business entity or as an individual).
To earn your license, you’re required to complete pre-license training and pass a licensing 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’re required to complete 20 hours of training for Life Insurance and 20 hours of training for Health Insurance.
After earning your first license, you must also complete additional Continuing Education (CE) training to maintain your license:
- California: 24 hours of instruction during each two-year license period, including three hours of ethics training. Additional information is available here.
- Nevada: 30 hours of instruction every three years, including three hours of ethics training. Additional information is available here.
More than three dozen organizations are listed on the California Department of Insurance website as authorized pre-licensing providers. Hundreds of vendors are listed as Continuing Education providers.
In Nevada, the state has contracted with Pearson VUE to conduct course and instructor approval for pre-licensing education as well as Continuing Education. (Other vendors are also approved for CE.)
Both California and Nevada require fingerprinting as part of the licensing process. Information on California’s licensing fingerprint requirements can be found here. Fingerprinting for Nevada licensees is done through Pearson VUE’s third-party vendor, IDEMIA. More information is available here.
Scheduling Your Exam
California uses PSI Services, Inc. for license exams. Information on scheduling an exam is available here. In Nevada, as noted previously, the state uses Pearson VUE for insurance producer licensing; you can download the Nevada candidate handbook here, which includes information about exams.
Once you’ve done your training and registered for your state exam, you’ll want to be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled exam. This ensures time for sign-in and identification verification. If you arrive late, you will not be admitted to the exam site and you will forfeit your registration fee.
After you’ve earned your license, you will want to get professional liability insurance known as Errors & Omissions (E&O), which protects you against claims made by your clients for inadequate work or negligence.
Independent, But Not Alone
When you have your license and your required E&O Insurance, your next decision is whether you want to work on your own as an independent agent, as a representative of a single company, as an agent inside a large agency, or as a broker representing multiple insurance carriers. You may want to align yourself with a General Agent, which can provide you with sales, quoting, enrolling, and other assistance.
Get Started Today!
Thousands of brokers in California and Nevada have partnered with Word & Brown General Agency, which offers a wide range of support services and tools to help you better serve the diverse needs of your customers. For more information, visit the Word & Brown new broker web page, or contact any of the General Agency’s six regional offices.
Related: 8 Steps to Becoming a Health Insurance Broker