Written by: Will Bond

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Insurance Licensing

Insurance License

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Getting an insurance license only requires a few steps. Follow our step-by-step guide on how to get your insurance license in your state.

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If you want to sell insurance products like homeowner’s, auto, commercial property, and professional liability, start here.

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Enrolling in an insurance licensing course helps you prepare for and pass your insurance licensing exams. Check out this guide where we help you find the best insurance licensing courses out there.

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If you want to become a life insurance agent or sell Medicare products, start here.

If you’re interested in kickstarting your career as an insurance agent, one of the first steps you’ll be required to take is to obtain an insurance license in the state where you plan to operate.

In order to walk you through this process, we designed this article to break down how to get an insurance license into five key steps, covering everything from choosing the right insurance line to submitting your application.

Recommended Course: Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their insurance license exam(s). For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

How to Get an Insurance License

In order to get your insurance license, you’ll typically be required to complete the following five steps:

  1. Choose Your Insurance Line of Authority
  2. Complete a Pre-Licensing Education Course
  3. Pass the Relevant State Insurance License Exam(s)
  4. Complete a Fingerprint and Background Check
  5. Submit Your Insurance License Application

It’s important to note that the exact steps required to get an insurance license (and their order) can vary depending on your state’s specific regulations.

As an example, applicants in Michigan must submit their application straight after choosing an insurance line; those in Vermont aren’t required to complete a background check at all, etc.

In the sections below, we’ve provided a general overview of each of the steps you can expect to face in most states.

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Step 1: Choose Your Insurance Line of Authority

Before getting started with the licensing process, one of the first things you’ll need to do is decide which types of insurance policies you want to sell.

It’s important to do this first since your choice will determine the type of license you’ll later need to go on to obtain. As an example, if you wanted to be able to sell auto or home insurance in your state, you’d require a Property and Casualty license.

While there are wide range of different insurance agent license types, the two most common appearing in all states are:

  • Casualty
  • Health
  • Life
  • Personal Lines
  • Property
  • Variable Products

Out of these, most insurance agents will decide to opt for either a Property and Casualty or a Health and Life license as they allow them to offer a much wider range of insurance products to potential clients (e.g., auto, workers compensation, crime coverage, commercial property insurance, etc.).

We tend to recommend sticking to one insurance line at a time when starting out. This is because the process of getting licensed is already difficult enough, and there is very little to gain by trying to learn the material of two separate lines simultaneously.

Step 2: Complete a Pre-Licensing Education Course 

In most cases, the next step you’ll want to take toward becoming a licensed insurance agent is to complete a pre-licensing education course.

While this is only a mandatory requirement in some states, we encourage all of our readers to complete one of these courses regardless of whether or not it’s required in their home state.

To give you a better idea of how things work in your state, we’ve included three tables below that detail the varying pre-licensing education requirements for insurance producers across the US.

Alabama – Kentucky

StatePre-Licensing Education RequirementHour Requirement
AlabamaYesCertain lines of authority
AlaskaNoN/A
ArizonaNoN/A
ArkansasYes20 hours
CaliforniaYes20 hours (general) plus
12 hours (ethics)
ColoradoYes50 hours
ConnecticutYes20 hours
DelawareNoN/A
FloridaYesDepends on insurance line
GeorgiaYesDepends on insurance line
HawaiiNoN/A
IdahoNoN/A
IllinoisYes20 hours
IndianaYesDepends on insurance line
IowaNoN/A
KansasNoN/A
KentuckyYes20 hours

Louisiana – North Dakota

StatePre-Licensing Education RequirementHour Requirement
LouisianaNoN/A
MaineNoN/A
MarylandYes20 hours
MassachusettsNoN/A
MichiganYes20 hours
MinnesotaYes20 hours
MississippiYes20 hours
MissouriNoN/A
MontanaNoN/A
NebraskaNoN/A
NevadaNoN/A
New HampshireNoN/A
New JerseyYes20 hours
New MexicoNoN/A
New YorkYesDepends on insurance line
North CarolinaYes20 hours
North DakotaNoN/A

Ohio – Wyoming

StatePre-Licensing Education RequirementHour Requirement
OhioYes20 hours
OklahomaNoN/A
OregonYes20 hours
PennsylvaniaYes24 hours
Puerto RicoNoN/A
Rhode IslandNoN/A
South CarolinaNoN/A
South DakotaNoN/A
TennesseeNoN/A
TexasNoN/A
UtahNoN/A
VermontNoN/A
VirginiaNoN/A
Washington StateNoN/A
Washington DCNoN/A
West VirginiaYes20 hours
WisconsinYes20 hours
WyomingNoN/A

As you can see, most of the states that require pre-license courses will require between 20 and 40 credit hours of education in order to qualify an applicant for an insurance exam.

Another important factor to note is that in many states where the completion of pre-licensing education is required, you’ll need to present an original completion certificate from an approved course provider when you turn up at a test center for your insurance license exam.

Recommended Course

Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their insurance license exam(s). For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Step 3: Pass the Relevant State Insurance Exam

Once you’ve completed your pre-licensing education, the next step you’ll typically be required to take will be to pass the relevant state insurance exam.

Each line will typically have its own unique test made up of two components: one on general insurance and the other on state-specific knowledge.

This isn’t always the case, however, and — depending on your line — an exam might not even be necessary (e.g., for certain Limited Lines insurance applications).

These tests will normally be made up of between 50 and 200 scored questions and will range between two and three hours in length. In order to pass, you’ll generally need an overall score of at least 70% though some states (e.g., Hawaii) calculate scores differently using a scaled system.

Once you obtain a passing score on your state’s insurance exam, it’s important to quickly continue on with the rest of the licensing process; this is because in a number of states (e.g., New Jersey) your score will only be considered valid for a limited period of time. If you wait longer than this, you’ll need to retake before you can apply.

Note: While many states provide content outlines on their website to help with your preparation, these only really serve to give you an overview of each exam’s structure and the topics they’ll cover. To really boost your preparation, we recommend checking out our Insurance License Exam guide or our in-depth overview of the Best Pre-Licensing Education Courses.

Step 4: Complete a Fingerprinting and Background Check

In almost all states, the final step you’ll need to complete before you can file an application with your state’s Department of Insurance is to submit your fingerprints for the purposes of a state and federal background check.

This process, which is often completed in-person using IdentoGO, Fieldprint, and other state-approved providers, typically costs between $25 and $50 and will provide the Department of Insurance in your state with a detailed report into your past conduct.

This is done in order to ensure that you’re fit to serve as an insurance agent in accordance with your state’s laws.

While certain felonies (e.g., embezzlement, money laundering, counterfeiting, etc) may permanently bar you from licensure, you won’t necessarily be excluded from becoming an insurance agent just because you have a criminal record, and this will often depend heavily on the state in question.

Note: If you have any felonies or misdemeanors against your name, it’s always best to be upfront about this earlier on during the licensing process, as trying to cover up past offenses will almost certainly damage your application prospects.

Step 5: Submit an Application to Your State’s Department of Insurance

Finally, once you’ve ensured that you satisfy all other licensing prerequisites, it will be time to submit your insurance license application.

Normally, this step is completed through the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) and will be accompanied by a filing fee that can range between $20 and $150 depending on the state you’re based in and the lines of authority you’re applying for.

Be aware that, while this is generally the last step in most states, there are some exceptions to this rule where applications are submitted much earlier on in the insurance licensing process (e.g., Florida and Michigan).

Step 6: Application Review & Licensure

Once you’ve submitted your application with your state’s Department of Insurance, all that’s left to do is wait. Processing times are highly specific to each state, ranging from anywhere between a couple of weeks and a few months.

In any case, the state will send you an email containing your license number and National Producer Number (NPN) once this review has been completed — so keep an eye out for that!

You should always be able to show your state insurance license if asked. When applying for a new job within the insurance industry, your employer will ask for your license number and NPN.

Note: Be aware that the processing time for your application may be longer than these estimations if the State Department runs into any issues with your background check or is faced with a particularly busy period.

Insurance License FAQ

How much does it cost to get an insurance license?

The cost of an insurance license varies depending on several factors, including the lines of authority you’re applying for (e.g., health insurance or casualty insurance) and the state where you plan to operate. Generally, you can expect to pay several hundred dollars for the licensing exam and application fees — though you’ll also need to factor in other potential costs, such as pre-licensing education courses and background checks.

How can I get an insurance license?

To obtain an insurance license, you typically need to fulfill certain requirements set by your state’s insurance department, including completing pre-licensing education, passing the state insurance licensing exam, undergoing a background check, and submitting an application with the necessary fees. You can read more about this process in our guide on how to get an insurance license.

How long does it take to get licensed as an insurance agent?

The time it takes to get licensed to sell insurance can vary depending on several factors, including the requirements set by your state, how quickly you complete your pre-licensing education, and how many attempts you need to pass the licensing exam. In general, the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Do I need to complete pre-licensing education in order to get an insurance license?

In many states, completing a pre-licensing education course is a requirement for obtaining most major-line insurance licenses. These courses are designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed as an insurance agent. However, we still recommend completing one even if they aren’t required in your state due to how helpful they can be. Be aware that the process varies for insurance agencies applying as a business entity.