Obtaining an insurance or securities license in your state, or other states in which you may have interest in doing business is not difficult, if you know what to expect, and can fulfill the requirements.
It is important that you know that obtaining your license is not solely about taking the licensing exam, and that the process is usually slightly different from state to state. The following should help increase your knowledge in this regard.
Job Specifics and Skillsets Required
Insurance sales agents, sometimes referred to as “producers” represent and offer clients one or more types of insurance, such as, but not limited to: property and casualty, life, health, disability, and long-term care.
Licensed property and casualty insurance agents handle policies that protect individuals and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, storms, and other events that can damage property. In the business arena, property and casualty insurance can also involve injured workers’ compensation, product liability claims, or medical malpractice claims.
Licensed life insurance representatives specialize in policies that pay beneficiaries when a policyholder dies. Depending on the policyholder’s circumstances, a cash-value policy can be designed to provide retirement income, funds for the education of children, or other benefits as well. Life insurance agents also sell annuities that promise a retirement income.
Licensed Health insurance agents represent health insurance policies that cover the costs of medical care and loss of income due to illness or injury. They also may sell dental insurance and short-term and long-term-disability insurance policies.
Today, increasing numbers of license insurance agents specialize in more than one type, functioning in many cases as insurance generalists, providing multiple products to a single customer.
Additionally in today’s market, an increasing number of insurance sales agents are offering comprehensive financial planning services to their clients. These services include retirement planning, estate planning, and assistance in setting up pension plans for businesses. As a result, many insurance agents are involved in “cross-selling” or “total account development”. Besides offering insurance, these agents may become licensed to sell mutual funds, variable annuities, and other securities. This practice is most common with life insurance agents who already sell annuities, but many property and casualty agents also sell financial products.
Licensing and Training Required
Every person in every state involved in the “solicitation, selling, or negotiation of insurance” must have a state-issued license. Licensure requirements vary by state but typically require some insurance-related coursework and the passing of several exams.
Insurance sales agents must obtain a license in the states where they plan to work. Separate licenses are required for agents to sell life and health insurance and property and casualty insurance. In most states, these means you will most likely have to enroll in a school that gives you:
20-40 or more hours of General Insurance courses
6-12 hours of Ethics courses
Practice exams and quizzes
Additionally, all candidates following completion of the training in almost all states must take a state licensing examination covering insurance fundamentals and state insurance laws.
Good news! The insurance industry is increasingly moving toward uniform state licensing standards and reciprocal licensing, allowing agents who earn a license in one State to become licensed in other states more easily. Most state licensing authorities also have mandatory continuing education requirements focusing on insurance laws, consumer protection, ethics, and the technical details of various insurance policies.
Where should you get your training? In addition to live classroom training and the University setting, one of the most popular methods today is through online learning. Students can take all their insurance licensing courses on the Internet with an instructor guiding them through every step of the course, yet with the ability to go at their own pace, when the time is most convenient.
How to Get a Securities License
Any securities professional associated with a member firm-including partners, officers, directors, branch managers, department supervisors, and salespersons-must register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The registration application requires information about the individual’s prior employment and disciplinary history. FINRA prescribes two levels of qualification and registration:
Registered representatives, generally sales personnel
Principals, generally officers of the firm and other management personnel involved in the day-to-day operation of the firm’s investment banking or securities business
As part of the registration process, securities professionals must pass examinations administered by FINRA to demonstrate competence in the areas in which they will work. These mandatory qualification examinations cover a broad range of subjects on the markets, as well as the securities industry and its regulatory structure, ensuring a minimum level of understanding and expertise. For additional information, you should consult with your broker-dealer management team. You may also visit FINRA’s website for detailed information.