How To Become An Insurance Agent In California
What Kind Of Agent Are You Going To Be?
A majority of people who are applying for their insurance license have a plan in already in place of where they are going to use it. If you don't yet have a plan on how you will be using your insurance license, this is the place to start. Here are some of the questions that you should ask yourself:
- What type of insurance am I going to sell?
- Am I starting my own agency, or working inside of an existing agency?
- It may depend on how your agency is set up to tell you what type of licenses you need to hold.
- What types of licenses does my company require me to hold?
Answering these questions should give you tell you the types of insurance licenses you need. If you are still unsure of which lines to pursue, you can always ask the folks in the state licensing office at 800-967-9331 or email the License Department contact form.
How To Get Your Insurance License In California
Fingerprinting And Background Check
California requires that all insurance license applicants provide fingerprints prior to licensing. Giving your fingerprints will initiate a background check. If you have any prior misdemeanors or felonies, this may affect the outcome of your licensing efforts. For more information on this topic, call the California Department of Insurance at 800-967-9331 or email the License Department contact form.
The fee for having fingerprints taken is $58.30, plus a possible charge from the institution that you choose to have them taken. You must also bring with you at the time of your appointment a completed LIC 442-39A form. The form can be found in this California Department of Insurance PDF.
Schedule your fingerprinting appointment with any of the approved vendors on this Insurance Department web page.
You also have the choice to have your fingerprints taken with the insurance exam company, but having them done prior to the other steps will ensure that there is less delay in getting your license.
The next step in getting a California insurance license is taking pre-license education courses. These are state required courses pertaining to the subject matter that will be on the license exam. To fill the pre-license requirement, you must complete twenty (20) hours of education coursework per line of authority that you wish to hold. On top of the hours you need to complete for each line, you will also need to complete twelve (12) hours of Ethics and California Insurance Code. You will receive a certificate upon completion of the course. Keep this certificate, as you will need it when taking your exam.
Example: If you want to get a Life Insurance license, then you would need to take twenty (20) hours of coursework. If you are going for Life & Health (L&H), forty (40) hours is your requirement. For Life & Health (L&H) and Property & Casualty (P&C), you will need eighty (80) hours total of pre-license education. Plus the twelve (12) hours of Ethics and California Insurance Code.
Most applicants choose to take these courses online, as it fits their schedule better, but there are also in person courses available. You should choose which format in which to take your courses based on your preferred method of learning. The goal isn't just to get the courses out of the way, it's to prepare you to pass your license exam on the first attempt.
StateRequirement recommends Kaplan Education Company for all pre-license education courses.
You can find a list course of approved California pre-license education providers on the California Department of Insurance website.
Insurance License Exams
The next step after completing all of your pre-license coursework is to take the insurance exam. You will take one exam for each line of insurance you wish to carry. Life & Health (L&H) and Property & Casualty (P&C) lines are combined as one test each, so you wouldn't take four tests, you would only take two all together. You must pass your exams within one year of completing your pre-license education course.
This is a proctored test, which means that you will be in a controlled environment with a person watching you. For people who haven't tested in a situation like this should be aware of this fact, and work on taming their nerves prior to sitting for the exam.
The fee for each attempt of the exams is $83, plus a $33 convenience fee ($116 total) for each "combined producer exam" (P&C and L&H). When you show up you must have a photo ID and the original pre-license education certificate. You have one hundred ninety-five (195) minutes to complete each exam, which both have one hundred fifty (150) questions.
Neither PSI Exams or the California Department of Insurance advertise what a "passing score" is, or how the exams are scored. After taking the exams, you will receive a pass or fail letter. If you fail, your letter will include a "diagnostic report indicating your strengths and weaknesses."
For more information on the California Insurance exams, visit this PDF from PSI Exams.
Check out our Insurance Exam Guide. It's extremely in-depth, and will hopefully help you pass the first time.
Insurance license tests are intentionally difficult, but not impossible by any means. You should study to the point of comfortability with the information before you attempt the test. Failing the exam isn't the end of the world, but keep in mind that you will need to pay the fee each time you attempt the test.
Note: StateRequirement recommends that you study for one exam at a time, then after passing, starting on your next line. The exams are difficult enough on their own without confusing information from one line to another.
You may register to take your exams and find more information on the PSI Exams website.
Once you have completed your exams and fingerprinting, you are now ready to apply for your license. If you have more than one line of authority that you have passed the exam for, be sure to apply for all of those lines.
The fee for an online application is $170 per combined line. If you wish to get your Property & Casualty AND your Life, Accident, & Health licenses, you will need to apply for each license seperately, and pay the $170 fee each time.
Fill out your online application on the California Department of Insurance FLASH web page.
Once you have submitted your application and have filled all the other requirements, your license application will be reviewed by the state. Your background check will also be reviewed.
If everything is to acceptable standards your license should be issued within two to three (2-3) weeks. If there are any items from your background check that need to be reviewed, it may slow down the process of issuance. If this is the case, the state may contact you to provide context to the issues that they have run into.
You should receive an email informing you of your license acceptance, but the folks in the license office recommend that you don't rely on this email. They would rather you use the license lookup tool. To check and see if your license has been issued, you may look yourself up in the California Department of Insurance License Lookup Tool.
You've done the work, put in the time and effort, and now hold the key to your own success! We're proud of you. Take five (5) minutes and celebrate.
Information on this page has been gathered by a multitude of sources, and was most recently updated in August 2017.
Any Information on this site is not guaranteed or warranted to be correct, accurate, or up to date. Huge Hammer LLC and its members and affiliates are not responsible for any losses, monetary or otherwise. For more information, please contact your state's authority on insurance.
Disclosure: StateRequirement has an affiliation with Kaplan Education company, and may receive compensation based on user activity on this site. We truly believe that Kaplan offers excellent products and services, and compliments the mission of StateRequirement.