What You Should Know
- An independent insurance agent is someone who sells insurance policies from multiple companies instead of working for a single insurance company
- The first step to becoming an independent insurance agent is to ensure that you meet education and other requirements for licensing, which may vary by state
- After an independent insurance agent gets their license, they will need to continue working to find clients, stay updated on industry news, and meet continuing education requirements
Becoming an independent insurance agent is a career choice that may result in flexibility, opportunity, and diversity. In addition, the time it takes to become an independent insurance agent is often less than the time it takes to get into other professions.
If you're wondering how to become an independent insurance agent, read more below about the requirements you must meet and other considerations.
Enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool above to learn more about insurance products available in your area.
What is an independent insurance agent?
An independent insurance agent is someone who sells insurance policies from multiple companies. They do not work for a single insurance company.
Independent insurance agents can provide their clients with more affordable rates since there is competition between the companies whose products the agent sells.
Some independent insurance agents will focus on selling one type of insurance, while others will sell a variety of insurance policies.
The primary responsibility of an independent insurance agent is to help clients find the insurance policy or policies that are right for them. They may also act as an intermediary between the client and the insurance company.
The independent insurance agent must research potential policies, negotiate terms, discuss client needs and build relationships, complete paperwork, and act as a customer service agent when needed. Other tasks will also include things that keep the agent's business running, such as administration, finances, and marketing.
How do I become an independent insurance agent?
Becoming an independent insurance agent can provide you with a rewarding career with a fair amount of freedom. In some states, the requirements for how to become an independent agent may vary slightly. However, they are generally similar to the steps listed below.
1. Get the right education
To begin, you must have a GED or a high school diploma. However, a bachelor's degree can help improve your career. Some possible topics of study include finances, business, or marketing, but some colleges may also have an insurance program.
In addition, you should complete a course that will cover the material for the licensing exam, plus other insurance topics. In some cases, you may also be able to find a job that will provide training with a licensed agent.
Each state has its own licensing requirements. For example, if you're wondering how to become an independent insurance agent in Georgia, you will have to complete a 20-hour course on each type of insurance you plan to sell. The same goes for how to become an independent insurance agent in North Carolina.
However, if you're wondering how to become an independent insurance agent in Florida, the number of hours you must complete for pre-licensing courses will depend on what type of insurance you're studying. For example, life insurance requires 40 hours, while general property and casualty insurance requires 200 hours.
2. Ensure you meet the license requirements
In addition to the education requirements you must meet to get your license, you will have to meet other criteria.
First, applicants must be able to pass a background check. In many cases, you are not allowed to have any criminal record, but some states may allow minor infractions such as driving tickets or non-violent crimes.
Second, the state may keep your fingerprints on file in case of fraud or other criminal cases.
3. Get your license
After your complete your education requirements, you can take the exam to receive your insurance agent license. Some states may require that you complete the exam within a certain period after completing your courses. In some cases, you may also need to obtain a different license for each type of insurance you intend to sell.
4. Market and search for clients
New independent insurance agents must get the word out about their services. Word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals are one of the best ways to get started. You may also consider approaching friends and family.
If you choose to pay for advertising, you may want to make sure the most important local options are covered, along with some online marketing (think PPC, social media, or influencer marketing). You will also have to make insurance companies aware of your new services to be able to sell their products.
If you're having a hard time finding clients, you may also want to consider finding a job with an insurance company or broker to gain experience.
5. Get insurance
Small businesses, including independent insurance agents, need to make sure they're protected with insurance. Independent insurance agents may want to consider buying general liability insurance, workers compensation coverage (if you have employees), and an errors and omission policy, which is specifically for independent agents and similar occupations.
Make sure you know what is required by your state's laws.
6. Continue your education
Some states will have a continuing education requirement that you must meet each year to keep your license. However, even if your state does not require that you continue your education, doing so may help your career in the long run and keep you updated with changes in the insurance industry.
How much does an independent insurance agent make?
An independent insurance agent will make an average of $77,140 per year. They may also make around $25,000 in commissions, but this will depend on factors such as the agreement with individual insurance companies, location, and the number of clients.
Should I become an independent insurance agent?
The insurance agent industry is expected to grow by 3.5% to 6% over the next few years. Therefore, independent insurance agents are needed to fill the demand.
There are a few benefits to becoming an independent insurance agent. One of the main advantages is that you can be your own boss. You make your own hours, decide who to work with, choose which products to sell, and you have the opportunity to build your own brand and reputation.
In addition, it is relatively easy to get started on becoming an independent insurance agent because the licensing requirements don't necessitate specific education requirements, such as degrees.
However, if you want to understand the struggles that independent insurance agents face, try searching for "why I quit being an insurance agent." Many people cite problems with finding clients and running out of money searching for leads. Others complain that they didn't like the agency they worked with.
If you're considering becoming an independent insurance agent, learn more about insurance products in your area by entering your ZIP code into our free quote comarison tool below.