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Beginners Guide to Selling Insurance

Updated on December 29, 2009
Mark C Stewart profile image

Mark has been a licensed Property and Casualty insurance agent for over six years, at one point holding licenses in all 50 states.

How to Sell Insurance

So you are thinking about getting into the insurance industry? You're looking for a new job or a career change and see all those job postings for insurance agents and wonder how can I best jump on this opportunity? What does it take to sell insurance? Well it takes a few things but the main ones are a license and some sales skills. Getting the license is the easy part, the selling skills not as easy but definitely attainable. I will go into the nuts and bolts of getting your license and some tips as to how to go about acquiring the skills of a salesman.

Getting Licensed

First, how to get licensed. In most states the requirements for getting licensed is based on a prospective agent taking a forty hour licensing class. In this class the focus will be on three areas: insurance, state laws and ethics. For most states, insurance products are broken into primarily two types, Property and Casualty (P&C) and Life, Accident and Health (LAH). P&C deals with auto, home, and business insurance. While LAH deals with life, health, and disability insurance. The two types are unique in how they work and in how best to market them. You have to take a 40 hour class for each type and sit for separate exams. Having worked over numerous years in the insurance industry I've seen most people stay with one type of license. It's either life and health or property and casualty for most. I'll talk more about why later.

Exam Makeup

The insurance portion will attempt to educate you on what is insurance, how does it work, types of insurance products available, and which product is best in certain situations. State law is usually addressed a great deal in the class. This is due to insurance being regulated on a state by state basis, so you need to know the insurance laws for your state. – Interestingly, once you are licensed in one state most other states will allow you to get a nonresident license in their state as long as you are in good standing in your home state and have paid the licensing fee in the nonresident state.-- But anyway. The final portion of the class deals with ethics. Insurance is a business based on good faith. An agent for an insurance company is the face and voice of the company. The company is relying on you to present their products and deal with the customer in a fair and honest way. Also as the agent, the customer is perceiving you as a trusted adviser since you usually know more about insurance than the customer so the customer tends to make decisions based on the agent's recommendation. So ethics is extremely important and covered thoroughly in classes and on exams.


Don't worry about the test too much though. Most pre-licensing classes as they are called teach towards the exam. While the instructor may not have an actual exam and they can't tell you the questions on the exam they do know that certain questions and concepts come up often on the exam and focus their teaching to these areas. They only have 40 hours usually to impart a large amount of information so they have to focus on what is more important which is getting you to pass the exam. Plus you can't learn it all it is just too much. Insurance is broad and deep and once you are in the industry you probably find yourself working in one or two areas and all the rest will be forgotten. Okay, this is all for now on how to sell insurance. I will get into the sales portion of the career in another article and why most people choose to sell just one type of insurance.


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