Getting your California life insurance license is the first step towards becoming a life insurance agent in the state.
The California Department of Insurance (CDI) requires you to complete a five-step process to become a life insurance agent in California — from taking the life insurance exam to applying for a license.
These steps will take a few weeks to complete so we recommend you bookmark this page so you can use it as a reference throughout the process.
How to Get Your California Life Insurance License
- Complete a California Insurance Pre-license Course (Kaplan Education Company – $149+)
- Get a Fingerprint-Based Background Check (Accurate Biometrics – $59 processing fee + $17 FBI processing fee + $32 Department of Justice processing fee + $10 CDI contractor rolling fee)
- Take the California Life Insurance Licensing Exam (PSI Exams – $88 exam fee + $33 convenience fee)
- Complete a California Life Insurance License Application (National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) or Sircon – $188 application fee. NIPR charges $5.60 transaction fee while Sircon doesn’t have a service fee)
- Watch for Your Application Results
Steps to Get a California Life Insurance License
Obtaining your California life insurance license isn’t difficult. Just follow these five steps to start your journey toward becoming a life insurance agent. Once you earn this license, check out our guide on how to get your California property and casualty (P&C) license as well.
Step 1: Complete a California Insurance Pre-license Course
Before you take the California life insurance licensing exam, it’s important to make time to acquire the knowledge you’ll need to pass this exam on your first attempt. Completing a pre-license education course will equip you with the necessary information and tools you’ll need to prepare for your exam.
California requires 20 hours of life insurance pre-licensing education. You also must complete 12 hours of ethics and California Insurance Code to satisfy the state’s 32-hour pre-licensing education requirements.
A pre-license education course provides very specific industry knowledge that will be tested during the exam. There is very little information on the test that could be considered “common sense”. Pre-license education courses are self-paced and include study materials like practice exams and flashcards.
Beyond helping you effectively prepare for and pass the life insurance licensing exam on your first try, taking a pre-license education course also will give you a solid understanding of your duties as a life insurance agent.
Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their insurance license exam(s). For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:
Step 2: Get a Fingerprint-Based Background Check
After you complete the California life insurance pre-licensing education requirements, you must get a fingerprint-based background check before you can take the California life insurance licensing exam.
The CDI’s contracted fingerprint vendor is Accurate Biometrics. The fee for fingerprinting services is $59 plus the $17 FBI processing fee, the $32 Department of Justice processing fee, and the $10 CDI contractor rolling fee.
You also have the option to take your fingerprint at a PSI test center. The total processing fee for PSI’s fingerprint impressions is $68.95, including the $17 FBI processing fee, the $32 Department of Justice processing fee, and a $19.95 CDI contractor rolling fee charged at PSI’s test centers.
To properly get a fingerprint-based background check, you must pay the applicable fees and do the following:
- Complete the Request for Live Scan Service (Form BCIA 8016) and print the Licensing Applicant Instructions (Form LIC 442-39A).
- Take your completed Request for Live Scan Service form to an authorized live scan fingerprint vendor.
- Complete the fingerprint impressions.
Keep a copy of your completed Request for Live Scan Service (Form BCIA 8016) for your records. Give the copy of the form to the live scan service vendor that’ll provide you with the Automated Transaction Identifier (ATI) number assigned to your fingerprint impressions. If your fingerprint impressions are rejected, the ATI number will allow for you to have your fingerprint impressions redone at no charge.
Step 3: Take the California Life Insurance Licensing Exam
After you complete the fingerprinting requirement, it’s time to take the California life insurance exam.
California uses PSI Exams as its official testing service for delivering licensure exams. Schedule an appointment to take the life insurance license exam. PSI now provides license applicants with the option to take a remote, online, proctored license exam for all insurance licensing examinations.
The California life insurance exam contains a total of 75 scored questions that includes two sections: general and state-specific. The general section deals with basic life insurance product knowledge. The state section covers insurance concepts and terms, rules, regulations, and practices specific to California.
You’ll have 105 minutes to complete the exam. The California life insurance exam fee is $88, which you must pay at the time of reservation by credit card, debit card, or voucher. The exam is a proctored test, meaning an official proctor will closely monitor you in a controlled environment.
After taking the state licensing exam, you will receive a diagnostic report indicating your scores in the general knowledge section and in the state-specific section, and what areas you need to improve.
If you happen to fail the California life insurance exam, you can schedule an appointment to retake it as soon as 24 hours after your first attempt. You may only retake the same exam up to 10 times within the same 12-month period or the CDI will ban you from retaking that license exam for a year after the date of your last failed attempt.
Check out our in-depth insurance exam guide for tips to help you pass on the first attempt.
The best way to understand if you are prepared for the test is to take a Life Insurance Practice Exam.
Step 4: Complete a California Life Insurance License Application
Once you pass the life insurance exam and complete the background check, you can apply for your California life insurance license. The application fee is $188. There’s no service fee if you apply via Sircon. If you apply via the NIPR, you must pay a $5.60 transaction fee. You can submit your application to the NIPR’s Attachment Warehouse or the California Department of Insurance via mail:
California Department of Insurance
Producer Licensing Bureau
|320 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
The CDI will issue a life insurance license to individuals who are at least 18 years old and have passed the proper licensing exam. You should submit your completed license application within 12 months of passing the exam.
To apply for a life insurance license in California, make sure you comply with the insurance licensing requirements as defined under the California Insurance Code.
Send any questions or supporting documents to the CDI Contact Form.
Step 5: Watch for Your Application Results
After you complete the previous four steps, the CDI will review your application and background check. It reviews filings in the order it receives them, and this process usually takes two to three weeks from the date you send your application.
You can print your license from the Sircon or NIPR websites. Sircon charges a $5.60 fee to print a license. You also can check the status of your license application by visiting the CDI Check License Application Status Service (CLASS) page.
You’re now ready to get started as a life insurance agent in California.
Next Steps After Securing Your California Life Insurance License
Once you complete the above steps and have your California life insurance license, here’s what you should pursue next.
Get Your FINRA Securities Licenses
Individuals planning to market and sell market-based life insurance products also must obtain the proper securities licenses. As a securities license holder, you can offer securities as part of your services. That’ll make you a credible authority in addressing all of your clients’ financial needs.
To obtain these licenses, you’ll first need to take and pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. Professionals in the securities industry are required to take the SIE and a series of examinations administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
The SIE exam ensures every life insurance professional has a basic understanding of securities. While taking the SIE exam isn’t a requirement for all insurance professionals, those who don’t obtain at least one securities license limit their ability to work with clients. With a securities license, you can give your clients the option to invest in securities-related products as part of their life insurance plans.
To help you start preparing for the SIE exam, check out our full guide on How to Pass the SIE Exam.
Obtaining a license to sell securities also requires sponsorship from a firm, company, or organization regulated by FINRA. The sponsor will pay the testing fees required for your SIE exams and submit your personal information to FINRA’s Central Registration Depository (CRD). The Series 6 and Series 7 licenses require a FINRA exam sponsorship before you can take the exam. The exam for a Series 63 license doesn’t require any sponsoring entity.
Once you get your securities license(s), FINRA will list you as a “registered representative.” By achieving the securities licensee designation, you’ll become a highly sought-after professional and set yourself up for a successful career in the insurance industry.
Series 6, 7, and 63 Licenses
Some of the most common securities licenses for insurance agents include the Series 6, 7, and 63 licenses because they allow licensees to sell almost every type of individual security.
The Series 6 (Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative) Securities License is the primary license sought by insurance sales professionals and financial advisors, allowing them to sell grouped securities related to insurance products.
Series 6 works together with Series 63 because they are the two partner licenses required to sell insurance policies tied to investments. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) oversees regulation of the Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law) license.
The Series 7 license allows you to buy and sell securities (e.g., stocks, bonds, and mutual funds) as part of an investment plan for your clients. To get a Series 7 license, you will first need to register as a new candidate with FINRA and pass the Series 7 exam. The Series 7 exam is commonly known as the General Securities Representative Qualification Exam, but is sometimes referred to as the “Series 7 Top-Off Exam.”
Get a Job in the Insurance Field
Once you earn your license, you can start applying for jobs in the insurance field. With a life insurance license, you can provide advice and recommend insurance products to clients, sell life insurance policies that pay a beneficiary upon an insured person’s death, and sell annuities that pay a set income at retirement.
When applying for an insurance-related job, potential employers will request your license number and National Producer Number (NPN). You can request a letter of certification, which proves you have a life insurance license in California, by visiting the Sircon website. You may need to submit this letter along with your job applications. If you do, the cost of requesting a letter of certification is $6, plus any additional, applicable fees.
Complete Continuing Education and Renew Your License
In California, you must take 24 hours of continuing education (CE) credits every two years to maintain your license in good standing. California also requires life insurance agents to complete eight hours of California-specific annuities training before soliciting individual customers in order to sell annuities. In addition, if a life insurance agent sells an annuity product in a subsequent license term, the agent must complete a four-hour, California-specific annuity training course during that license term.
If you have a non-resident license and have good standing in your home state, you don’t need to take CE courses in California. To find out if you need to take California courses, go to the Sircon website and click on “Continuing Education Transcript Inquiry.”
In California, you also must renew and manage your life insurance license every two years. To avoid delays in renewing your license, you must complete CE hours at least 60 days before your license expires.
Failing to complete the required annuity training before the expiration of your license won’t affect your license renewal. But, you’ll be in violation of the California Insurance Code if you sold any annuity products during a license term and didn’t complete the four-hour annuity training during that license term. The license renewal fee is $188 and the late fee is $282.
Learn how to renew your license with our California Insurance License Renewal guide.
California Department of Insurance Contact Information
California Department of Insurance
Producer Licensing Bureau
320 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (800) 967-9331
Email: Contact Form
License Search: California License Status Inquiry
California Life Insurance License FAQ
How much does it cost to get a life insurance license in California?
Getting a California life insurance license requires paying several fees. This includes the pre-license education course ($149), fingerprinting via Accurate Biometrics ($118), exam registration and license examination via PSI Exams ($121), and California insurance license application via NIPR ($193.60) or Sircon or ($188 without no service fee).
How long does it take to process a life insurance license application in California?
The processing time for a life insurance license application in California is usually two to three weeks after your application is received. This means that you should expect to receive your license within this time frame after you pass the California licensing exam and submit your application. Visit the California Department of Insurance website for more information.
Can I get a temporary life insurance agent license in California?
No. You cannot get a temporary life insurance agent license in California. The CDI is not issuing temporary licenses at this time. You need to meet the insurance license qualifications and apply for a regular California license. You can bookmark this page for the latest updates.
Do I need to get my securities license on top of a life insurance license in California?
You probably need a securities license besides a life insurance license in California. Having a securities license lets you sell more products tied to the securities market. Since a life insurance license only allows you to sell basic life insurance products, you will need FINRA accreditation for a securities license.
What can I sell with a life insurance license in California?
With a life insurance license in California, you can sell life insurance policies that pay a beneficiary upon an insured person’s death. You can also sell annuities that pay a set income at retirement. However, you may need a securities license to sell products connected with the securities market.
How much can you make with a life insurance license in California?
In California, the average annual salary for a life insurance agent is approximately $88,968, which equates to about $42.77 per hour. This figure can vary widely, with salaries ranging from as low as $18,000 to as high as $145,000 per year, depending on factors like skill level, location, and experience of the licensed insurance agent.
What are the limitations of a California life insurance license?
Obtaining a California life insurance license only allows you to sell life insurance and annuities. You may need other licenses to sell other insurance products (e.g., the combined life and health insurance license). You need FINRA accreditation for a securities license so you can sell securities, including stocks and bonds.
How hard is it to get a life insurance license in California?
Getting a life insurance license in California is not that difficult. It is a simple process that involves completing an education course, passing a fingerprint-based background check, passing an exam, and applying for the license. This process ensures that you are well-prepared and knowledgeable to sell insurance policies to your clients.