How To Become An Insurance Agent In California
Getting your insurance license is the first step to becoming an insurance agent in California. Life insurance, car insurance, home insurance, or business insurance all require a license to sell in any state.
Follow our step-by-step guide to get your insurance license in California.
How To Get Your Insurance License In California
Step 1. Which Types of Insurance Licenses Do You Need?
Depending on what type of insurance agent you want to be or what types of policies you need to sell, you will need to choose what type or types of insurance licenses you need to get.
These are examples of the types of insurance policies you can sell with each type of license:
- Property & Casualty Insurance License – Car Insurance, Home Insurance, Business Insurance, etc…
- Life & Health Insurance License – Life Insurance, Annuities, Health Insurance, etc…
Most insurance agents choose to get both of these licenses, but if you will only sell one type of policy then you just need to choose which license fits your needs.
Step 2. 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.
Schedule to have your fingerprint impressions taken before the license examination. Accurate Biometrics is CDI’s preferred vendor, call (866) 361-9944 find the location nearest to you. The fee for having fingerprints taken is $59, includes the FBI processing fee of $17, DOJ processing fee of $32, and the CDI’s contractor’s rolling fee of $10.
You also have the option to take your fingerprint at a PSI test center. There the total processing fee for the fingerprint impressions taken is $68.95 which includes all associated fees.
Note: Staff at the licensing department mention that having your fingerprints completed prior to testing with PSI will ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in your license process.
To ensure fingerprint impressions are properly recorded you must pay the $59 fee and complete the following:
- Fill out the Request for Live Scan Service form LIC 442-39A.
- Take your completed Request for Live Scan Service form to the live scan vendor.
- Complete the fingerprint impressions.
- Retain a copy of the Request for Live Scan Service form LIC 442-39A for your records. Give a copy of the form to the live scan service vendor who will provide you with the Automated Transaction Identifier (ATI) number that is 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.
In addition, if a license is not issued within twelve months of the date the fingerprints are submitted, a new set of fingerprint impressions will be required.
If you have any further questions regarding fingerprinting or the background check, call the California Department of Insurance at (800) 967-9331 or email the License Department contact form.
Step 3. Insurance Pre-License Education
After you’ve determined which licenses you need, you must now take your California insurance pre-license education courses.
Most folks choose to take their insurance pre-license course online. These courses are created specifically to give you the skills you need to pass the test. The types of licenses you choose (also known as “lines of authority”) will determine which courses you take.
Each line of authority in California requires twenty (20) hours of pre-license education. This means that if you wish to get a Property and Casualty license, you must take forty (40) hours of pre-licensing, and for Life, Accident, and Health you must also take forty (40) hours.
You will receive a certificate upon completion of the course. Keep this certificate, as you will need it when taking your exam.
California requires that twelve (12) of those pre-license education hours must be in Ethics and California Insurance Code.
For required insurance pre-license courses and exam prep, StateRequirement recommends:
Step 4. California Insurance License Exams
The next step after completing all of your pre-licensure coursework is to take the insurance exam. You will take one exam for each line of insurance you wish to carry. Life, Accident & Health and Property & Casualty (P&C) lines are combined as one test each, so you wouldn’t take four tests, you would only take two altogether. 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 $88, plus a $33 convenience fee ($121 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.”
To register for the California Insurance License Exam, visit PSI Exams – California.
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.
Step 5. License Application
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 $188 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 separately, and pay the $170 fee each time.
Fill out your online application on the California Department of Insurance FLASH web page.
Step 6. Application Review
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.
After Licensing, What's Next?
Now that you have your license, use the StateRequirement Job Board to find the opening to your new career.
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
Information on this page has been gathered by a multitude of sources and was most recently updated in March 2020.Any Information on this site is not guaranteed or warranted to be correct, accurate, or up to date. StateRequirement 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.