How to Get a Life Insurance License in New York

Written by: Kevelyn Rodriguez

Last updated:

Getting your New York life insurance license is the first step toward becoming a life insurance agent in the state.

The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) requires you to complete a four-step process to become a life insurance agent in New York — 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 New York Life Insurance License

  1. Complete a New York Insurance Pre-license Course (Kaplan Education Company – $149+)
  2. Take the New York Life Insurance Licensing Exam (PSI – $33)
  3. Complete a New York Life Insurance License Application (DFS Secure Portal – $40 application fee)
  4. Watch for Your Application Results

Life Insurance License New York

Obtaining your New York life insurance license isn’t difficult. Just follow these four 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 New York property and casualty (P&C) license as well.

Step 1: Complete a New York Insurance Pre-license Course

Before you take the New York 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.

In New York, you must take a 20-hour, pre-license course on life insurance. After completing the course, you’ll need to present a valid photo ID and an original certificate of completion from the approved prelicensing education provider when you arrive to take your licensing exam. Your pre-license course certificate will remain valid for 12 months.

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.

Recommended

Doing a pre-licensing education course dramatically increases your chance of passing your exam on your first attempt, which can end up saving you both time and money in the long run. For pre-licensing education, StateRequirement recommends:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Step 2: Take the New York Life Insurance Licensing Exam

After you complete a prep course and your own independent studying, it’s time to take the New York life insurance exam.

New York uses PSI as its official testing service for delivering licensure exams.

The New York life insurance exam contains a total of 100 scored questions that cover two sections: general and state-specific knowledge. The general section deals with basic life insurance product knowledge. The state-specific section covers insurance concepts and terms, rules, regulations, and practices specific to New York.

You’ll have 120 minutes to complete the exam. The New York life insurance exam fee is $33, 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.

If you happen to fail the New York life insurance exam, you can schedule a time to retake it as soon as 24 hours after your first attempt. There’s no limit to the number of attempts you can make on the same exam.

Tip

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 3: Complete a New York Life Insurance License Application

Once you pass the life insurance exam, you can apply for your New York life insurance license. The application fee is $40, and you must apply online via the DFS Secure Portal.

The New York State DFS 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 New York, make sure you comply with the insurance licensing requirements as defined under the New York Insurance Law and New York Administrative Code.

Send any questions or supporting documents to Licensing@dfs.ny.gov.

Step 4: Watch for Your Application Results

After you complete the previous three steps, the New York State DFS will review your application. It reviews applications in the order it receives them, and this process usually takes one to five business days from the date you submit your application.

Once the New York State DFS finishes reviewing your application, it’ll email you with its decision or ask you to provide more information.

You can print your license from the DFS Secure Portal. There’s no charge to print a license.

Congratulations!

You’re now ready to get started as a life insurance agent in New York.

Steps After Securing Your New York Life Insurance License

Once you complete the above steps and have your New York life insurance license, there are a few steps you’ll need to take in order to a) excel as an insurance agent, and b) maintain your life insurance license.

Let’s take a brief look at these below.

Obtain All Relevant Securities Licenses

If you’re planning on selling advanced life insurance products, you’ll likely need to pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and obtain the relevant securities licenses (e.g., Series 6, 7, and 63).

For more information on this step, you can have a look at our in-depth Securities Licensing overview.

Choose a Means of Selling

You’ll have to decide whether you’d prefer working as a captive agent employed by one company, or running your own business as an independent agent.

If you’re just starting out, you’ll likely benefit from working as a captive agent, but this will ultimately depend on your personal aspirations and opportunities.

Develop Your Marketing Approach

To succeed as an insurance agent, you’ll need to adopt a marketing approach that’s effective for you.

We recommend finding and sticking to a niche, as well organizing all client appointments for the start of your week. This is because this can improve your overall client conversions.

Keep Your License Valid

In New York, you must complete 15 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years to renew your license and keep it in good standing.

To avoid delays in renewing your license, you should try to complete the required CE hours at least 120 days before your license expires.

This is because this will give enough time to your CE provider to report your successful completion of the course to the New York State DFS. 

Note: There is a $80 renewal fee that will need to be paid.

For a more in-depth look at each one of these steps, check out our Steps After Getting Your Insurance License guide.

New York State Department of Financial Services Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Main Office
1 State Street
New York, NY 10004-1511

Phone: (800) 342-3736

Email: Licensing@dfs.ny.gov 

Website: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/

License Search: New York Insurance License Lookup

New York Life Insurance License FAQ

How much does it cost to get a life insurance license in New York?

Obtaining a life insurance license in New York requires these fees:
Insurance Pre-license Education Course Fee: $149+ via Kaplan Education Company
Exam Fee: $33 via PSI
Application Fee: $40 via the DFS Secure Portal

How long does it take to process a life insurance license application in New York?

This process typically takes one to five business days. You’ll receive an email once the New York State DFS reviews your application.

Can I get a temporary life insurance agent license in New York?

No. New York doesn’t provide a temporary life insurance license.

Can I get an emergency life insurance agent license in New York?

No. An emergency license isn’t available for life insurance agents in New York.

Do I need to get my securities license on top of a life insurance license in New York?

Probably. While you can sell certain basic life insurance products with just a life insurance license, a securities license removes the limits on what you can sell and puts you in a much better career position. As a securities license holder, you can provide your clients with products tied to the securities market as part of their retirement and life insurance plans. But, you’ll need FINRA accreditation to obtain your securities license.

What can I sell with a life insurance license in New York?

With a New York life insurance license, you can sell life insurance policies that pay a designated beneficiary when the insured person dies. You also can sell annuities that pay a set income at retirement.

How much can you make with a life insurance license in New York?

According to ZipRecruiter, life insurance agents earn an average of $79,730 per year.

What are the limitations of a New York life insurance license?

Unless you have multiple licenses to sell various types of insurance products (e.g., the combined life and health insurance license), having a New York life insurance license only qualifies you to sell life insurance policies as well as retirement plans and annuities. You can’t sell other types of insurance. A securities license on top of your life insurance license removes that limitation and enables you to offer securities, including stocks and bonds.

Can I cancel my life insurance license in New York?

Yes. To cancel your license, submit a written letter that requests the cancellation of your license to the New York State Department of Financial Services at 1 State Street New York, NY 10004-1511. You must include your license with the request letter. If you don’t have your license in your possession, you must clearly state this in your letter.

How hard is it to get a life insurance license in New York?

The process is quite simple! Follow the steps above and get started today!

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