How To Become An Insurance Agent 8 Steps

In this article, I’m going to share the eight steps you need to take in order to become an insurance agent. 

Most likely, you’re reading this because you’re seriously considering selling insurance.

You no doubt are curious about what it takes to get your insurance license and start selling. 

I’m going to walk you through eight steps to becoming an insurance agent. These steps take into consideration that there are a couple of things you need to do to ensure you have the best chances of success, including partnering with the right agency. 

Let’s begin!

Quick Navigation Article Links

Step #1 – Research Different Markets

This is a really, really important step.

And most likely, you’re reading this at a point beyond this step.

For example, you might have already been introduced to one particular type of market, because some friend or family member or maybe a job ad on Craigslist told you it was the greatest thing ever. 

Before you jump in and commit to anything, you really need to do your due diligence. 

Check out some other kinds of insurance sales opportunities, and take your time to figure out what works best for you and your career.

Here are some things I would suggest, having been in the business for many years now. 

Research which product is a good fit

First of all, there are many insurance products to sell.

For example, you’ve got:

…There’s a whole boatload of insurance types. There’s a lot of different sub-niches within those markets, too. 

For example, there’s the final expense market. There is the Medicare market, part of the health insurance market.

Do your research right now

Knowing what’s out there is really important in order for you to find the right product to sell.  

You really should do all of this research right now. Figure out the details of how those insurance lines work and figure out which one best fits you.

Things to take into consideration here include:

  • Type of prospects the product attracts,
  • Demand for the product, and,
  • Income opportunities
Where to start?

My website is a great, no-obligation resource

From the navigation menu at the top, there’s multitudes insurance sales training articles and a lot of the different sales marketing programs you’ll discover. My blog is also a great resource, too.

Reach out to other agents

It’s also a good idea to reach out to other insurance agents who are already selling the products you’re considering selling.

Nothing is better for you at this point than hearing it from the horse’s mouth.

Hearing what it’s like to sell from an actual agent who’s doing what it is that you want to do is a good idea. 

Most will happily help

I’ll tell you one thing about insurance agents…

The vast majority of them are happy to help you figure out if this business is right for you or not.

In fact, they will be excited to tell you about their experience, their are ups and downs in the business, what it’s been like, what they would have done differently knowing what they know now.

All you have to do is reach out!

I’m serious when I say it’s easy. Pick up the phone and say,

“Hey, I’m calling because I’m thinking about getting into the insurance business. I’ve seen your name before. You seem like you’re very successful. I just want some insight. Do you have a few minutes now? Or can I schedule a call back later?”

I assure you, more than half of those people say, “Absolutely” and will be very happy to help out.

Pick One Product Only

After you do your research and figure out what’s most appealing to you, pick one particular product to sell.

I am of the persuasion, it’s best for a brand new agent looking to become an insurance agent, to focus on one product. 

If you disseminate your focus among a multitude of products, the problem becomes that you aren’t really a specialist.

You don’t understand the entirety of everything as well and as clearly as you would if you focused on one product. 

There is so much complexity with every product that it really pays better for an agent to become a master of one versus a Jack of all trades of many.

Do your due diligence, take some time and pick out which product is going to be best for you.

Step # 2 – Research Different Agency Opportunities

Again, you’re probably yelling at me, “Why aren’t we talking about how to get a license and take the exam?”

Don’t worry, we’ll get to that. =) 

Because this step is WAY more important. And too often, this is done way after licensing and joining an organization.

Here’s what I mean…

Not all insurance agency opportunities are the same!

Some are better than others, depending on what you’re attracted to when it comes to entering the insurance sales industry.

Please, please, please… take your time doing your research.

I assure you, if some agency says they’ve got the best insurance lead program, the best insurance, the best people since time and memorial, that is a sales pitch. 

The weird thing about insurance sales is the roles are actually reversed.

Instead of you pitching the agency on getting a job, the insurance agency actually is trying to pitch you!

Put your spider senses to work here. At the end of the day, have more suspicion on what agencies claim as benefits.

Because… as we say in the business…

“If you’ve got a pulse or fog this mirror, you’re hired!”

So be a little bit skeptical. =)

Captive versus independent 

Another important point to consider…

Is the agency you’re considering joining captive or independent?

In case you aren’t familiar with this terminology, here’s a quick explanation of what that means. 

If you are a captive, you are stuck with that agency.

For example, you usually have access to one product line-up, and are married to that organization exclusively. 

Whereas if you’re independent, it’s like running your own restaurant…

You decide the menu, and how to run your business.

As an independent agent, you have much more freedom to operate your insurance sales business the way you please.

For example, independent agents often have access to multiple insurance carriers. 

And that means you can shop options for your clients, helping them choose an insurance product, both competitively priced and optimized with the best options.

Is there quality training?

Another point to consider, is the level and quality of training.

This is huge. 

Many insurance sales organizations do not have the capacity or even the desire to train new agents.

Instead, they will say, “Watch this video,” or, “Just go out there and see what you can do.”

My friend, that is not training. =(

What IS training is a comprehensive program involving:

  • Group training
  • Script development
  • Role Playing, and
  • Marketing training.

If you don’t see something to the level that I’ve just described…

Run!

Find another agency that has this.

Earning opportunity versus commission

You’re earning opportunity and commission levels are important to discuss up front.

Commission levels vary across the board. Some are low, some are high. 

And the question you have to ask yourself is…

  • “What do I get for that commission level I’m receiving?”
  • “Do I get free leads?”
  • “Do I get a salary?”
  • “Do I get some kind of perks or benefits that I wouldn’t get with a high commission level?” 

What you’ll discover 80% of the time is that insurance sales opportunities with low commissions have little benefit relative to those with higher commission.

…Unless you like the “rah-rah” and Kool-aid drinking. More on that in a minute. 

Many times, the best thing to do when selling insurance is to make sure that you maximize your commissions.

Odds are you’ll have to find your own prospects as most organizations don’t provide them. So you should, as any sensible business owner should, maximize shareholder value, as Jack Welch of GE said.

Which just basically means you’re the sole shareholder. Your job is to make the most money you can.

Is it a producer or a recruitment oriented program? 

A lot of organizations say they’re going to teach you how to sell insurance, but what they really want you to do is recruit your friends and family. 

Again, funny saying in the business that’s unfortunately too true…

“Hire them in masses, train them in classes. Sell all their friends and family and fire their asses.” 

That is the mantra of the mass recruiters in the insurance business. And you don’t want to be in an organization like that for obvious reasons, right?

Because it’s just an agent meat grinder, and you’re not going to get the kind of success that you want.

Lead prospecting system options

How will your agency help you find prospects?

For example,

  • Do you have to cold call to find leads?
  • Are leads provided to you?
  • Do you have to purchase your own leads? If so, what’s the cost?
  • What can you expect? 

Please do your research upfront on this.

When I sold final expense, I bought leads. I went and saw interested prospects.

I didn’t mind investing the money. After all, I ran a business.

But if I had to cold call, I never would have entered the business. That’s just me personally. Make sure you investigate that yourself.

Is It An Insurance MLM?

Another thing here, last but not least, as we go through the next steps of getting your license…

Investigate if the agency you’re looking at is an insurance MLM or multilevel marketing agency. 

Here’s the unfortunate truth…

80 to 90% of agencies focus on multilevel marketing and recruitment tactics. Almost every insurance company agency is built like in a MLM hierarchy. 

MLM Culture Versus MLM Organization Structure

Now, before you stop reading, let me explain.

In insurance sales no matter the agency, there are uplines and downlines. The carriers are at the top, the agencies are in the middle, and the agents…they’re at the bottom.

It has a pyramid-like look. But it’s typically NOT an illegal “pyramid scheme.”

In fact, this organizational structure is how most insurance sales organizations operate.

The difference maker? The culture.

What you’ll find is if an organization:

  • Has its agents jumping around acting like a fool when it comes to coaxing you to join
  • Brags about their Ferraris, their Rolexes, their boats, their planes, and
  • Gives you this high-pressure pep talk on how perfect everything is…
  • BUT they don’t talk about specifics like commission levels, leads, their actual sales and marketing system.

Then it’s all a MLM ploy to seduce you into joining. 

Be very, very careful of this.

Any agent with any clout that’s been in the business, knows exactly what I’m talking about.

If it feels funny, it’s funny. Stay away from it.

Step #3 – Select And Complete A Pre-licensing Course

Essentially, when you get your insurance license in most states you have to complete pre-licensing that basically prepares you for the test.

It gives you something to study and get ready for when you eventually go sit for the test. 

There’s a lot of different options out there. Two that come to mind that are a well-regarded are:

Both offer good programs. They are reasonably priced and will help you get your insurance license.

Step #4 -Schedule And Take Your Exam

The next step is to figure out where the closest proctor insurance exam is in your city or nearby.

Usually, it’s PearsonVUE in most states. You’ll call up or register online, set up a date, and then go take the exam. 

Typically, the exam is two hours in length and has 50 to 80 questions, depending on which exam you’re taking.

To pass, you have to get something in the range of 70% in order to get your license.

But this again will vary by product and state, so be sure to find out ahead of time. It’s well worth the investment of time to know ahead. 

And yes, you will have to go in and sit somewhere to take the exam. It is a physical, in-person exam.

Step #5 – Submit Your Licensing Application

Understand that if you’re going to apply for a license to sell insurance, it is a privilege the state extends to you, not a right.

The state has the ability to accept or decline your desire to become an insurance agent. 

What do I mean by that?

They’re going to check your background.

So if you’ve got background issues like:

  • Criminal issues,
  • Misdemeanors,
  • Felonies,

Be fully aware that you need to be transparent when you apply, and understand it is solely in their power to issue or not issue a license. 

This application does cost a fee. It varies state to state, but expect to pay a little money to the government in order to apply for the privilege of selling insurance.

Once you do that, you need to submit your licensing application and background info to the state DUI.

Step #6 – Purchase Errors And Omissions Insurance

What is error and emissions insurance or E&O insurance?

Basically, it’s insurance that’s liability coverage, in case you mess up an application or something is considered to be wrong and the client sues, you have some layer of insurance protection. 

Typically, it’s between $400 to $800. It’s going to vary depending on the kind and type of insurance that you sell. 

A good place to get E&O insurance is EOForLess. That’s where I send my insurance agents that join my agency across the country.

Check out their site and look at different E&Os as well, to figure out what works best for you. 

Step #7- Request Carrier Appointments

At this point, you should have chosen the agency you want to work with.

You should feel strongly about which product line you want to specialize in.

Now that you’ve got your license and your  errors and omissions insurance, it’s time to request the carriers that your agency recommends so that you can start selling.

Understand when you get appointed or you request an appointment with the carriers, they’re going to do a background check on you, as well as a credit check.

Much like a bank does when you take out a loan, they need to make sure you are a good risk and are going to pay back your chargebacks.

They want to make sure you’re a sound person of sound mind and a good representative of the company.

Step #8 – Go All-In

At this point, you’ve done a lot of work.

You’ve really researched the markets, the agency, and you’ve prepped for and taken the exam.

Now, you should have found the product line, market, and agency that best fits you.

If that’s the case, go all-in!

Sure, it may not be perfect. There’s nothing perfect in life.

But you should be able to find something that appeals to you, and when you do, don’t look back, put blinders on and go all in.

Selling insurance is a business that is deceptively difficult. It looks easy from the outside.

Oh, you just go talk to people and sell them insurance and make a lot of money.

Sure… =)

But there’s a deeper side, a darker side.

It’s the emotional roller coaster of going back and forth, having great days and horrible days.

It happens to everybody. It is a straight commission job for most of us.

When you get involved in this business, you must burn the bridges. You need to fully commit yourself. 

Please do not dabble in the insurance business and expect to get any results.

Commit yourself to the entirety of this business so that you can give yourself the best chances of success.

Summary

In summary, research different markets, figure out which market is best for you.

Take time to research different agencies, make sure to review those points I mentioned.

Test the agencies on those points and be very wary if any of those points fit. Always feel free to keep looking around, find the best fit.

Complete your pre-licensing. Schedule and take your exam. Submit your licensing to apply for your application for insurance licensing.

Purchase E&O insurance. After you have your license, submit your carrier appointments, and then last but not least, go all in.

That is how you become an insurance agent. That’s how it’s done. 

If you want to learn more about how my agency works, if you want to learn more about how I train agents in my agency nationally, no matter what state, to become top producers in final expense, Medicare and annuities, click here.

Also check out my many Agent Success Stories and best-selling insurance sales books for more perspective on the insurance sales business.

Thank you so much for reading!

Top