Insurance covers a wide array of losses, such as motor vehicle wrecks, fires, business interruptions from cyber attacks, and deaths. Insurance agents offer products and services to assist individuals and organizations in managing the risks of events that cause these losses. Learn below the insurance agent job description, talents, required knowledge, and more.
Job Overview: What Does an Insurance Agent Do?
Selling insurance constitutes one facet of the insurance agent job description. Agents advise clients on the coverage they need and locate insurers willing to provide it. The duties and skills of insurance agents highlight the customer service and relationship-building aspects of this job description.
Insurance Agent Job Duties
- Provide options and premium quotes on available insurance products.
- Evaluate customers’ current insurance coverage and needs in order to recommend products.
- Place “cold calls” to those who are not clients of the agency yet.
- Locate insurance companies to provide the coverage requested by the client.
- Furnish information, including completed forms, to underwriters and insurance companies to process applications.
- Deliver policies, insurance binders, and certificates of insurance to clients and other parties who may require the information, such as government agencies, lenders, and owners of construction sites.
- Receive claims on policies and premium payments.
- Develop and implement local or regional advertising, and other types of marketing for the insurer and its products.
- Offer annuities, financial products, and bonds for individuals in certain positions, such as fiduciaries and those performing contracting services.
Insurance Agent Job Essential Skills
Analytical Skills. To recommend the proper insurance, agents must analyze the needs and risks faced by clients. These skills involve accumulating information on the clients’ activities, life expectancy, property values, and business size. In some lines of insurance, such as automobile insurance, analysis involves driving records and daily travel routes.
Communication Skills. Agents need the ability to relay accurate, prompt, and relevant information to clients. Communication includes listening to the client and composing informative blog posts or newspaper columns on insurance issues and products. Confident and persuasive messages can aid agents in making cold calls.
Interpersonal Skills. Clients, underwriters, and insurers work with agents on finding policies. Insurance agents must exercise prompt and courteous customer service, and maintain credibility to keep their business. Insurance companies expect agents to present their brands and products in the best light.
Becoming an Insurance Agent
The types of services an agent will furnish provides determine the extent of his or her education, training, and licensure. Prospective agents will need fundamental knowledge of the insurance business and basic financial concepts. Those who handle specialized products and financial services will need licensing and expertise beyond the standard license to sell insurance.
Qualifications and Training
A high school diploma suffices as a minimum degree to become an insurance agent. According to O*NET, nearly one in three insurance agents have a high school education, but not beyond it. Approximately 46 percent hold a bachelor’s degree. For prospective agents, courses cover business, finance, and economics.
To work as an insurance agent, you need a license from the state of practice. Agents must earn separate licenses to sell life, health, and property casualty insurance. In many states, only specially-licensed brokers can place insurance with “surplus lines” insurance companies. These are carriers who, without the brokers, do not have authority to offer insurance in a particular state.
Becoming licensed normally requires knowledge of insurance laws and regulations, and fundamentals of the insurance industry. Licensing boards may also conduct criminal background checks and require candidates to meet certain moral and character standards.
Some agents may forge into investment products and financial planning. Those agents seeking to offer stocks, bonds, interests in mutual or investment funds, or other financial products must get certification from the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency (FINRA). That process includes the Series 6 exams for those offering mutual funds and variable annuities.
Training of insurance agents normally occurs on-the-job, under the supervision of a licensed agent. These opportunities are more likely to abound in multi-agent insurance businesses.
Aspiring insurance agents accumulate experience by working in an insurance office. Positions such as receptionist, office manager, or administrative assistant expose prospective agents to the operation of an insurance office, forms, billing practices, and claims procedures.
Nearly one out of seven agents were self-employed as of 2014, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Even among independent or self-employed agents, experience in an insurance setting helps agents build trust with clients. Independent agents often start with smaller-scale insurance products, often for individuals or residences. With experience and consistent and competent customer service comes a heightened reputation within the community or region where the agent offers the insurance products.
Generally, insurance agents are full-time employees. Roughly one-fifth of agents log over 40 hours per week.
Agents, especially those who work independently or on a self-employed basis, can set their own work hours. Some agents schedule evening or weekend meetings with clients to accommodate their schedules. In certain communities, insurance agents meet clients or prospective clients in their homes.
Business hours typically consist of a mix of client appointments, completing paperwork such as applications and required forms, and calling actual and potential customers. Some of the preparation for sales-oriented meetings may occur during the evening, once the office is closed for phone calls or in-person appearances by customers.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
By 2024, the United States should have 509,500 insurance agents. This represents a nine percent climb in employment from the 466,100 agents who occupied the field in 2014. At this time, the medial annual pay for an insurance agent is of $37,073.
Independent agencies could provide fertile ground for job opportunities. Insurance companies may rely less on in-house agents in order to control costs. Those agents handling health and long-term care (such as for nursing homes) may experience strong prospects.
Current laws that require individuals and employers to obtain health insurance should sustain demand for agents. Even should these mandates disappear, the increasingly elderly population will spur the need for healthcare and insurance to pay for it. Rising nursing home costs will drive younger people to consider long-term care insurance.
Agents can also sustain their businesses with motorists who are legally required to carry liability insurance.
Technology may temper some of the job growth among insurance agents. Insurers have turned to the internet to allow customers to pay premiums, file loss claims, and even obtain quotes and policies.
As mobile devices allow customers to conduct their insurance affairs more conveniently and instantly, many of the traditional tasks of insurance agents may diminish. This could require them to learn about emerging risks for businesses.
With online and mobile technology, insurers can take their messages and services directly to customers. In this environment, agents whose insurance agent job description includes imparting personalized knowledge and assistance can find growth opportunities for their businesses or job prospects.