How to Get an Insurance License in New York

Written by: Will Bond

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How to Get an Insurance License in New York

If you’re thinking about becoming an insurance agent in New York, the first step you’ll need to take in order to kickstart your career is to obtain a New York insurance license.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to become an insurance agent in New York, as well as what to do once you get licensed.

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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New York Insurance License

In order to get your New York insurance license, you’ll need to complete the following five steps:

  1. Figure Out Which Insurance License You’ll Need
  2. Complete a Pre-Licensing Education Course
  3. Pass the Relevant New York Insurance License Exam(s)
  4. Complete a Fingerprint and Background Check
  5. Submit Your Insurance License Application

Below we have explored each step in more detail.

Step 1: Decide Which Insurance Licenses You Need

The first step will be deciding what type of insurance policies you’ll want to sell — at least at the start of your career.

This is because the type of insurance policies you’re hoping to sell will dictate the type of license you’ll need. For example, you’d need a Property & Casualty (P&C) license to be able to sell auto, home, or business insurance.

Here’s a list of all the different types of insurance agent licenses that are available in the state of New York:

  • Bail Bond
  • Life, Accident, and Health
  • Limited Lines (rental vehicle companies, self-storage companies, and wireless communications equipment vendors)
  • Property and Casualty
  • Mortgage Guaranty
  • Title Insurance

While there are a large number of different licenses to choose from, the vast majority of insurance agents will either obtain a Property and Casualty (P&C) or Life and Health license.

In fact, many agents actually opt to go for both of these licenses as it allows them to offer clients a much wider range of the most common insurance products.

However, if you already know you want to specialize in one particular type of policy, you’ll of course only have to focus on the specific license that’s relevant to this insurance type.

It’s worth noting at this point that if you’re looking to work as an insurance adjuster, you’ll need to obtain a separate license — which you can find more information about in our New York Adjuster License overview.

Step 2: Complete a New York Pre-Licensing Education Course

The next step you’ll want to take toward becoming a licensed insurance agent is completing a pre-licensing education course.

In the state of New York, all applicants are required to complete prelicensing education before being permitted to take a state licensing exam.

Having said that, for a course to be considered valid, it must be approved by the Superintendent of Insurance and be a specific minimum number of hours in length.

Depending on the insurance license you’ll be applying for, this minimum hour requirement can either be 20, 40, or 90 hours:

  • Life, Accident and Health Agent: 40 hours
  • Life Agent: 20 hours
  • Accident and Health Agent: 20 hours
  • Personal Lines Agent: 40 hours
  • Property and Casualty Agent: 90 hours
  • Title Insurance Agent: 20 hours

Due to the sheer number of pre-licensing education courses available, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed when deciding which one is right for you. To avoid this, we typically recommend making a decision based on the following factors:

  • The course’s flexibility (e.g., does it allow flexible learning, does it require completing within a short time-window, etc.)
  • The course’s price: This one is obvious; our only tip here is to not go too low, as from our experience you tend to get what you pay for when it comes to these
  • The course’s reputation: How reliable is each provider? The last thing you want is insufficient and/or incomplete resources before your exam

Recommended

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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If you want more information before getting started, you can also have a look at our in-depth overview of the five best pre-license education courses in 2024.

Step 3: Pass the Relevant New York Insurance License Exam(s)

After completing your pre-licensing education course, you will need to take (and pass) the relevant New York insurance license exam.

We say “relevant” because this will depend on the line you wish to specialize in; for example, if you’re planning to sell life, health, and accident policies, you’ll need to pass the Life, Accident, and Health exam — which has 150 scored questions.

In New York, all insurance exams are proctored, administered by PSI, and cost $33 to apply for. On top of this base fee, you can also opt to pay an additional Cancellation Protection fee of $6.60 so that you can cancel your exam up to 24 hours beforehand, though this is entirely optional.

Keep in mind that you can sit for more than one exam at a time (e.g., if you want to apply for both a life and health insurance and a property and casualty insurance license).

Even so, we recommend avoiding this route; this is because passing your exam is hard enough as is, and there is arguably little to gain and a lot to lose with the added risk of confusing separate line material.

We found that the best approach is to study for one at a time, averaging between two to six weeks of study time per exam — depending on whether you are studying full time or part-time, as well as on how comfortable you are at taking proctored exams.

Note: In order to pass your insurance exam, you’ll need to obtain a grade of at least 70% overall. If you pass, your score will be valid for two years before expiring, meaning that you will need to apply for your license within this time if you want to avoid having to re-take.

For more information, you can have a look at our New York Insurance License Exam guide.

Step 4: Complete a Fingerprinting And Background Check

The final step you’ll need to take before you can submit your insurance agent license application is to get fingerprinted. This process, which is completed through IdentoGO, will initiate a background check into your past conduct in order to confirm that you meet New York State’s insurance agent regulations.

To organize a fingerprinting appointment, you’ll need to go to the IdentoGO website or call (877) 472-6915. While booking, be aware that not all IdentoGO sites can be used for fingerprinting, only New York State Authorized IdentoGO Centers.

In order to get started with reserving your fingerprinting, you’ll need to use one of the following Service Codes:

  • Employee Applicant: 1544H9
  • Life Settlement Intermediaries: 1544K7
  • Licensing of Life Settlement Providers: 1544NR
  • Principal, Executive, Director of Life Settlement Providers: 1544Q5

Make sure to use the Service Code that’s relevant to you when scheduling your appointment; using the incorrect one will invalidate your fingerprints and require the whole process to be restarted (including paying the fee).

You can contact the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) by calling (800) 342-3736 if you need to find out which Service Code applies to you.

After attending your fingerprinting appointment, you’ll be given two receipts — one which needs to be attached alongside your insurance license application sent to the DFS, and another for you to keep for your records.

Note: It’s important to submit your application quickly once you’ve attended this appointment, as the DFS will discard any scanned fingerprints if they don’t receive a related application within 10 days.

Step 5: Submit Your Insurance License Application

With your exams and fingerprinting out of the way, you’ll be ready to actually apply for your license. In New York, you can either do this through the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) or directly through the DFS website.

For most insurance licenses, submitting this application will cost $80 (plus a small transaction charge). However, the fee for excess lines will be based on the county you’re based in — those with a population of less than 100,000 must pay $50 while those in counties with more than this must pay $400.

Be aware that if you’ve passed the New York licensing exam for multiple lines of authority, you’ll be required to submit an application (and pay a filing fee) for each of these.

On top of this, don’t forget that you’ll need to include the fingerprint receipt given to you by IdentoGO for the New York Department of Financial Services to accept your application(s).

Step 6: Application Review

And that’s it! After satisfying all the other requirements and submitting a license application to the New York Department of Financial Services all that’s left to do is wait.

If everything on your application has been filled out correctly, your license should be issued within three to five weeks — which is the amount of time it typically takes for a license application and background check to be reviewed.

It’s important to be aware that the issuance of your insurance license can take a bit longer than this if there are any items from your background check that need to be looked over. However, the state will likely get in touch with you to give some context if they run into any issues.

In any case, the state will send you an email regarding the status of your license once this review has been completed, so keep an eye out for that!

Note: If you submit your insurance license application by paper or through the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR), you’ll be required to pay to print it.

Pro 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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After Getting Your New York Insurance License

Once you’ve passed all your exams and your licensing application has been approved, you’ll be a qualified insurance agent in New York.

At this point, there are four main steps that we recommend new insurance agents to take:

  1. Obtain Any Relevant Securities Licenses: If you’re planning on selling advanced life insurance products, you’ll need to pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and obtain the relevant securities licenses (e.g., Series 6, 7, and 63).
  2. Choose a Means of Selling: You’ll have to decide whether you’d prefer working as a captive agent employed by one company, or running your own business as an independent agent.
  3. Develop Your Marketing Approach: To succeed as an insurance agent, you’ll need to adopt a marketing approach that’s effective for you. Finding and sticking to a niche, as well organizing all client appointments for the start of your week, are two great ways to do this.
  4. Keep Your License Valid: In New York, you’ll be required to complete 15 credit hours of continuing education (CE) every two years in order to maintain your license.

For a more in-depth look at each one of these steps, check out our Steps After Getting Your Insurance License guide.

New York Department of Financial Services Contact Information

Mailing Address:
One State Street
New York, New York 10004-1511

Phone: (518) 474-6600

Email: licensing@dfs.ny.gov

Website: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/apps_and_licensing/agents_and_brokers/home

License Search: New York Insurance License Search and Lookup

New York Insurance License FAQ

How do I become a licensed insurance agent in NY?

The process of becoming a licensed insurance professional in New York is relatively straightforward, and only involves five key steps: choosing an insurance line, completing prelicensing education, passing the state exam, undergoing a background check, and submitting an application through NIPR or DFS. You can read more on getting started in the insurance industry in our New York Insurance License article.

How much does it cost to get an insurance license in NY?

Depending on the prelicensing education course you choose, the cost can vary greatly — though it will typically be at least $200. This should be enough to cover the exam fee, cost of applying, and any fingerprinting fees.

How long is an NYS insurance license good for?

In New York, an insurance license is valid for two years before you’ll need to renew it by completing at least 15 credit hours of CE and paying $80. Note this information applies to insurance agent licenses, if you’re looking to obtain a broker license (e.g., a casualty broker license, life broker license, life settlement broker license, or property and casualty broker license), this will vary.

How many questions is the NYS insurance exam?

Since each insurance line in New York has its own unique licensing exam, the number of questions will depend on which line you’re taking. For the most part, combined lines (e.g., P&C or life and health) are made up of 150 questions, while individual line exams generally only have 100 questions.

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