If you love the thought of minimizing risks and dealing with customers on a regular basis, an insurance career might be ideal for you. Insurance professionals have good customer service skills and high levels of emotional intelligence. Because the industry is often a self-motivated one, it’s also important that you are honest, persistent, and have a high energy level.
As of 2017, there were approximately 1.1 million insurance brokers and agents throughout the country, creating an industry that is worth over 5 trillion US dollars. While there are a variety of different insurance types, home and auto insurance are the most widely known. The top home and auto insurance agencies are State Farm, Geico, Allstate, Progressive and USAA.
Life and health insurance are two more of the largest insurance sectors. The biggest life insurance companies are MetLife, Northwestern Mutual, New York Life, Prudential and Lincoln Financial. The top health insurance companies in the United States are Unitedhealth Group, Anthem, Aetna, Humana and Cigna.
As highlighted by these three categories within the insurance industry, there are many directions an insurance professional can go in their career.
When it comes to entering the insurance agency, you have a few different positions to choose from. To be successful in any insurance position, you’ll want to have the technical knowledge of a wide array of products to help your customers understand how to create a safety net that prevents financial ruin.
How to Get Your Insurance Career Started
- Identify a career goal in the insurance sector: There are many different entry-level positions to get you started in the insurance sector. Determine your final goal. Do you want to be the face of the agency and work face to face with customers, or do you prefer the behind the scenes approach to risk analysis and underwriting?
- Transfer your current experience and skills to insurance: Any type of problem-solving or customer service you have done in past internships or employment positions is beneficial in the insurance industry. Other beneficial experience includes work with fraud and theft prevention, ethics, and compliance.
- Create a network: Whether you are working for an existing company or building from the ground up, the insurance industry is one where you need a good network. Word of mouth is one of your best advertisements. Look for opportunities to volunteer or work at a convention or conference to meet people and learn more about the industry.
- Get your insurance license: Most agencies will not require you to have a college degree or any specific certifications, but to sell or market insurance, you will need to get an Insurance License in your state. Some companies will work to help you get your license after you have been hired, but others may make licensing a requirement before they bring you on board.
- Research potential employers: Insurance agencies are all different when it comes to benefits, salary, and commission. Some are looking to fill an entry-level job, while some others may be seeking more experience to fill a position.
- Create a resume and apply for jobs: Once you’ve searched for and found the agency you want to work for, you’ll want to create a quality resume that highlights why you are right for the job and begin applying for positions. Tailor your resume to the position and job description that you are applying for as opposed to creating a “one-size-fits-all” application. Be sure that your resume will stand out in some way to the interviewer. Insurance companies tend to run on an “always be hiring” system, so they may be seeing many resumes on a regular basis.
These tips are ideal for anyone who wants to work in insurance. There is also a long list of jobs in the industry and you can choose the one that fits your career goals and your personality best.
Types of Insurance Jobs
From secretary to insurance agent, there are all kinds of jobs in the insurance field. Whether you work for an insurance company headquarters or choose to sell for an independent agency, there are opportunities at the entry level and positions managing hundreds of people.
Jobs that allow you to work directly with an agency include:
- Insurance agent or producer: A producer, which is sometimes referred to as an agent is the person working within the local agency selling policies directly to the customers. When you think “insurance job”, this is usually the person that comes to mind.
There are also independent insurance agents or life insurance agents that are direct salespeople, but these folks don’t always work directly under the confines of an agency or office. Most of the time these salespeople are contracted directly to the insurance company and work from home or on the road.
- Receptionist or secretary: Typically this person is required to be the face of the agency, handle calls that come in for the agent and deal with customers that come to the physical office to make payments or ask questions. This person should have good interpersonal skills, be extremely organized and be proficient at the software and technology that the agency uses. While this may be an entry level position, it is extremely important to the agency and company when it comes to retaining customers.
- Customer service representative: A customer service representative often works in a call center and supports a team of agents and brokers. This is an ideal way to get your foot in the door if you want a long-term career in the insurance industry, and representatives should have strong professional and interpersonal skills along with some previous customer service experience. Customers may rely on you for accurate information about the systems, products and services the company offers.
- Insurance assistant: You may handle requests and questions from prospective and current clients, and daily tasks include processing mail, answering phones, processing transaction and photocopying materials. This personal should also be dependable, organized and be extremely attentive to details. It is also a bonus if you have worked in the insurance industry before.
These jobs may not have you working directly within an agency but are included in the industry itself.
- Underwriter trainee: An underwriter trainee will determine if the company’s policy will accept the level of a risk of a new application. This job is exactly what the title suggests; training to become an underwriter. It is also a great position if you want to educate yourself about the insurance industry’s foundational principles. The primary role is to analyze the relevant factors and risks that come in determining insurance coverage and then recommend the appropriate coverage package. These individuals must work will independently and learn quickly and must have strong interpersonal and communication skills.
- Underwriter assistant: An underwriter assistant provides underwriting and clerical support to the underwriting team. Tasks may include data input, handling reception duties, answering questions for current clients and researching potential business leads. These individuals must have a high level of professional, be flexible and organized and be able to problem solve quickly. You can also succeed in this position if you work well in teams and have strong communication skills.
- Risk analyst: Work with the insurance team to attract and develop new business accounts. A risk analyst also analyzes risk exposure, prepares reports, conducts surveys and records assessments in order to inform the underwriters and clients of the best ways to minimize risks. While not necessary, it’s helpful to have a business background although a good portion of the training is done on the job.
These are entry level positions that require little to no experience and are great stepping stones to a more in-depth future in the insurance field. Customers rely on their insurance agency to help them determine which type of insurance coverage is necessary, and agencies rely on insurance companies to help them determine and minimize the risks the company assumes. While these jobs can be divided into two different sections, they all work together to create a streamlined process for customers.
How to Get Ahead of the Competition Before You Apply for Jobs
If you are researching or applying for a job in the insurance industry, there is a lot to learn. Some common terms and ideas are complicated for those who haven’t worked in the industry before. As you prepare for an interview, there are things you can study to help you interview well and come out ahead of the competition. One way to do this is to study common insurance terms, and the added benefit is that you may even discover what type of insurance you are passionate about or which job is ideal to help you meet your goals.
The more you study, the more prepared you appear to your interviewers. When you come prepared to an interview with a basic understanding of insurance terms and ideas, you highlight how you can be an asset to the company.
Transitioning Into an Insurance Sales Job
If you choose the insurance industry as your chosen path, you could be a salesman, a secretary, an underwriter or one of several other positions. While you help clients minimize their risks and determine which policies and coverage types are right for them, your goal is ultimately to sell them the proper coverage. Some professionals that make good transitions to insurance agents include:
- Mortgage loan officers
- Real estate agents
- Auto sales specialists
- Photocopier sales representatives
The ability to network and position yourself is vital in an insurance career. Agents and those in insurance sales jobs are competitive, enjoy the risks of going out on a limb and starting a new business venture, love helping people reduce their risks in everyday life and thrive on hard work and connection with others.
Starting Your Own Agency
If your goal is to become an insurance agent and run your own business, you have two options. The first is to become a captive agent. This means that you work specifically for one company (Allstate, State Farm, Progressive) and only sell their policies and products and adhere to their guidelines. This can be a more reliable source of income, benefits and salary, but leaves you with only one product to sell to your customers. The bottom line is that if you can’t provide them with a good price, an accessible agent and good coverage, they may go elsewhere.
If you chose to start an independent agency, you can sell products from multiple companies at one time. You build your own book of business and bring on your own clients and the process can be slow at times.
The benefit of an independent agency is that you can sell multiple products from multiple companies, often finding the lowest price for your clients from a multitude of competitors. Starting an independent agency requires motivation, ambition and capital. Your commission-based salary may start small, but with hard work and determination can grow swiftly over the years.
What Type of Insurance Inspires You?
As discussed previously, there are several types of insurance that you can sell.
- Health insurance
- Auto insurance
- Life insurance
- Long-term disability
If you are energized by helping customers prepare for their families after they are gone, life insurance may be the way for you to go. If you enjoy diving into the world of healthcare and providing coverage for medical care, health insurance is a good fit.
Home and auto insurance is a common area for new employees to start in, and there are many sub-categories that you can learn. These types of coverage fall into the Property and Casualty Insurance territory. There is a long list of the types of insurance that are available to customers including flood insurance, personal items insurance, boat insurance, caravan insurance, and farm insurance.
Life and Health Insurance is the other main category that most consumer insurance products fall into. Well known policies include term life insurance, annuities, and different types of health insurance.
The goal of any type of insurance is to minimize the risks that your customers take on in everyday tasks. As their insurance agent, you are given a very important ask when it comes to protecting their future and what they can provide for their families.
Building a Career You Love
From sales assistant to underwriter to agency owner, there are many job opportunities within the insurance industry. If you are looking for a fulfilling, rewarding career where you can work with numbers, risks, and people, then a job in the insurance sector is the perfect fit for you. Ambition, self-motivation, great customer service and the desire to learn are all required for a successful, lifetime career providing a service that allows your customers to have peace of mind.