What is a Life and Health Insurance License

Written by: Ethan Peyton

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What is a Life and Health Insurance License

If you’re interested in a career as an insurance agent, or even more specifically, a life insurance agent, then the first thing you’ll need to do is get your Life Insurance License.

The Life Insurance License is generally tied very closely with the Health Insurance license (most folks choose to get both), so we’ve created this guide as a combined Life and Health Insurance License article.

The Life and Health License is one of the two basic insurance licenses (along with the Property and Casualty License).

This guide will answer your questions about what is an l&h license, what products you can sell, other licenses you may need, and much more.

Tip: 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.

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What is a Life and Health License?

Earning your life and health insurance license is your first step to selling life and/or health insurance in your respective state as an insurance agent.

The license is granted upon the successful passing of your specific state’s exam and allows the recipient to solicit and build a book of business of health and life insurance within that state.

This means you can work on behalf of an insurance agency, selling just their brand of products, or as an independent broker with access to several brands of products.

It can be encouraged for an agency’s support staff, like customer service representatives or appraisers, to earn their licenses as well, as they will handle much of the administrative management of these policies.

Life Insurance License

Obtaining your life insurance license distinguishes you as an insurance producer qualified to sell life insurance products within your state. Having your life insurance license grants you the ability to explain, sell, and write this line of business.

Health Insurance License

Health insurance licensure will allow you to write health insurance products offered within your state. With a health insurance license, you are recognized as qualified to explain, sell, and write health insurance products.

Do I Have to Get Both Licenses?

You can get your health insurance license independently of your life insurance license, and vice versa. Most new agents elect to get them at the same time based on their opportunity to write both lines of business for the same client.

States can also group life and health lines together into a single pre-license course and exam. It is recommended to check with the particulars of your state to confirm what securing each license permits you to sell.

How Do I Get My Life and Health Insurance License?

Each state has different qualifications to successfully earn insurance licenses, but the most common first stage is preparing for the state’s examination.

For example, to begin the process in Michigan, you must apply for a license with the National Insurance Producer Registry. This can be online or in-person and costs $15 for each type of business you plan to sell. The application lasts for six (6) months.

During this time, prospective agents will enroll in specific education courses, tailored to the content expected on the exam. Each pre-licensing course will be worth a set amount of credit hours. In Michigan, completion of Life, Accident, and Health coursework requires forty (40) hours and is awarded a certificate necessary for taking the exam.


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:

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From there, prospective life and health insurance agents in Michigan can attempt the exam for a fee of $40 per attempt.

How to Prepare for the Life and Health Insurance Exam

Understanding that the insurance exam is a proctored, multiple-choice exam can inform your study habits. The proctored nature of this exam means an individual is present while you take the assessment, either in person or monitoring via a computer. This ensures there are no additional aids used during the duration of the exam.

Most of the familiar study habits will help you prepare for a multiple-choice exam like the life insurance exam. Allow for the amount of time you know you need to fully understand the material. Recognizing the correct answer against other information requires a certain level of familiarity with the content.

Understanding your testing provider ahead of the exam is also helpful. They are often usually third-party companies that are cleared by your state’s insurance commissioner to administer the test.

Last, but not least, become familiar with your state’s outlines. Some states update frequently, annually, or less, so it is important to know exactly what information your state has provided on your exam.

Read our full test prep and study guide on How to Pass the Insurance Exam on your first attempt.

Is the Life and Health Insurance License Exam Difficult?

The average pass rate for the life and health insurance exam sits around 50% for first-time test-takers. Improving chances for success will mean budgeting the time you know you need to study and retain the material.

Knowing how you best learn and take tests, having the best tools and courses available, and budgeting your study time wisely can increase your chances of passing the exam.

The most successful participants are ones that feel they were reviewing the information, rather than seeing it for the first time and winging it.

What is on the Life and Health Insurance Exam?

The content of your exam is contingent on the state’s specific regulations and the line of products you are looking to sell. There are examination content outlines available per state, and while there will be some variation, there is a shared basic structure.

You are asked to understand the concept of the insurance, how it can vary or become customized with policy riders or tax considerations, and how it is fulfilled to the insured.

For this example, we are looking at a life and health insurance exam content outline.

Typically, there are two sections of the exam: general knowledge and state-specific:

In general knowledge, you will also be expected to understand the types of policy riders, provisions, options and exclusions that can modify a policy. In this section, you will also have to demonstrate an understanding of the application and the underwriting practices needed to deliver the policy.

In state-specific, you will find questions pertaining to state statutes, rules and regulations common to life and health insurance, including insurance definitions, licensing requirements, marketing practices, and agent responsibilities.

The life and health insurance license exam has around 100-150 questions and you will need to complete the exam in around 2.5 to 3 hours. The number of questions and allowable time limit often depend on your state‘s requirement of the exam.

Visit our How to Get Your Life Insurance License page to see the entire outline of your state’s exam.

What can I Do with a Life and Health Insurance License?

Obtaining a life and health insurance license permits you to begin selling and retaining life and/or health insurance policies within a specific state. It qualifies you as a life insurance agent legally able to explain, sell, and process that line of insurance.

Both of these types of insurance lines protect a claimant from loss relating to medical situations or death.

The terms of the life and health insurance you are selling are heavily dependent on that of the provider of the policy. If you work for an independent agency or broker, you have the advantage of access to several insurance brands.

Life Insurance License

Life insurance policies ensure the policyholder and their beneficiaries will receive a stated benefit upon the event of a death. Life insurance policies can vary based on the length of time covered, and with that, the premiums and amount of coverage vary.

For example, term life insurance policies usually have lower premiums, and cover a specified amount of time should death occur. Whereas whole life insurance policies cover the lifetime of the insured, but at higher premiums. Whole life can be seen as a long-term investment, as there is a cash component that appreciates over time – as other types of investments can.

Health Insurance License

Your health insurance license will allow you to sell common types of health insurance within your state, like HMOs, PPOs, HSAs, and so on. These are variants of different types of health insurance coverage, but they share the same intent to reimburse the claimant should they experience medical expenses from injury or illness.

An HMO allows the insured and their beneficiaries to access a network of care providers, hospitals, and specialists. A PPO offers more flexibility, in that it will still cover a care provider outside the health insurance network. HSAs are savings accounts for insured that typically pay higher deductibles so that they can save accordingly for any medical expenses that are not covered.

A health insurance license may also allow you to some disability lines, depending on your state.

What are the Limitations of a Life and Health Insurance License?

Your life and health insurance license authorizes you to sell life insurance and health insurance but does not expand to auto, home, title, or property & casualty lines. These other types of insurance will have their own licensing exams and requirements as made necessary by the state. See Property and Casualty Insurance License.

Life insurance policies, like variable whole life, can be tied to securities backed investment vehicles that require a FINRA license to market and sell. See FINRA Series 6 & 63 Licenses.

How Do I Renew My Life and Health Insurance License?

Each state has different steps and requirements necessary to complete the renewal of a specific insurance license. Most states have a renewal period of about two (2) years and have renewal fees ranging from $15 – $200 per line.

All states also require the completion of continuing education courses in order to renew your license. The average number of hours to be completed is sixteen (16) – thirty (30) hours per line. These courses must be completed prior to your license’s date of expiration or a penalty fine will be added to your renewal fee.

Life and Health Insurance License FAQ

How do I become a life and health insurance agent?

To become a life and health insurance agent, you need to take a pre-license education, pass the licensing exam, and apply to become a life and health insurance agent. A bachelor’s degree is recommended, but not required to start. Check your state requirements for specific details. Life insurance and health insurance may require separate licenses.

Do I have to get both insurance licenses for life and health?

You can get your health insurance license independently of your life insurance license, and vice versa. Most new agents choose to get them to add more to their portfolio in selling more insurance policies.

How much does it cost to get a life and health insurance license?

The cost to take the exam ranges from $40–$150, depending on your state.

How hard is the life and health insurance exam?

For first-time exam takers, the average pass rate for the life and health insurance exam is around 50%. There are pre-license education courses you can take to increase your chances of passing the exam. For pre-license education courses and study prep, we recommend Kaplan Education Company.

How much do life and health insurance agents make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a life insurance agent in the United States is $84,407 a year, meaning the pay is approximately $40.58 an hour. See our How Do Life Insurance Companies Make Money article for more information.

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