Steps After Obtaining an Insurance License

Written by: Will Bond

Last updated:

Steps After Obtaining an Insurance License

Regardless of whether you’re already licensed or are currently looking to complete this process, you’ll likely want to know what the next steps of your insurance license journey will look like.

This article will break down everything you need to know to get started, including choosing how you’ll sell insurance policies, developing your marketing strategy, and completing your state’s continuing education (CE) requirements.

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.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Choose a Means of Selling

After you’ve obtained your insurance license, the first step to think about taking is to decide how you’re going to sell insurance policies.

When it comes to how you can sell insurance there are generally two different options available to you:

  • Captive agents: As a captive agent you’ll only work for one company (e.g., an agency or insurance carrier) and will be responsible for selling its products
  • Independent agents: By contrast, independent agents essentially run their own business and offer the products of several different insurance companies

To help give you an idea of what each of these pathways involves, and which you’re better suited for, we’ve broken them down in more detail below.

Captive Insurance Agents

As mentioned above, a captive agent only works with one company and will make money through a combination of a salary and commission. For this reason, it can be a great starting point for your career in the insurance industry, and is typically very popular among newly qualified agents.

On top of the financial security provided by a regular salary (plus commission on any policies you sell), this route is particularly appealing to newcomers as a captive contract can provide you with extensive support and resources — both of which are invaluable for kickstarting your career in the insurance industry.

This support could include customer service assistance, administrative support, and marketing materials; some captive agencies even offer comprehensive training programs that can help you to understand their products and sales techniques.

The main drawbacks of this are that you’ll typically be quite reliant on the company you’re working with and will often be unable to diversify your portfolio beyond what your immediate supervisor permits.

Additionally, the client base you grow will ultimately belong to the business, and not you.

Independent Insurance Agents

Alternatively, you can choose to work for yourself as an independent insurance agent, which allows you to sell the insurance policies of multiple different providers. For example, as a life insurance agent in this situation you’d be able to contract with MassMutual, Northwestern, and Prudential all at the same time.

For more experienced insurance agents this can be a great way to increase your earnings. Not only because working with a variety of providers allows you to offer a greater range of products to your clients, but also because you’re better able to find policies more suited to your clients’ needs.

On top of this, you’ll likely be able to offer these policies to your clients at lower premiums since you’ll have the ability to shop around — unlike captive insurance agents who are locked in with one provider.

The key benefit of choosing this path is the ability to establish your own agencies — this gives you complete control over your business operations, marketing, and client base. However, this is not a popular choice among newly qualified insurance agents as they tend to lack the experience and industry knowledge necessary to thrive independently.

For more information, have a look at our Captive vs Independent Insurance Agent article.


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:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Develop Your Marketing Approach

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to sell insurance policies, the next step involves figuring out what your marketing approach is going to be. In other words, how are you going to make sure you’re consistently getting in front of people?

In the section below, we’ve detailed our top tips to help you develop an approach to marketing that works for you.

Find Your Niche

One of the biggest mistakes that new insurance agents make is trying to sell everything. While well-intentioned, this can actually be quite counterintuitive as it becomes more difficult to convince clients that you’re reliable and knowledgeable if you sell a range of different policies.

This is because the more different policy types you sell, the harder it becomes to have a truly in-depth knowledge of each one. Instead, selecting a niche when selling insurance is crucial for agents to be able to effectively focus on a specific market segment or demographic.

This not only allows you to become an expert in your chosen niche (which builds trust and credibility), it also allows you to tailor your products and services to meet the unique needs of your target audience as well as differentiate yourself from competitors in the eyes of your clients.

Do the Math

With your niche chosen, it’s time to get down to get to the nitty gritty. How many people do you need to sit down with at least each week in order to meet your annual income target?

By breaking down your annual income target into manageable weekly goals, you can create a clear roadmap for success. For instance, if your aim is to sell 15 policies a week, you might need to sit down with at least 10 potential clients, knowing that you can close 5 sales from those meetings.

It’s a good idea at this stage to talk to veteran insurance agents in order to figure out roughly how many clients you’ll need to sit down with in order to consistently make a certain number of sales — as this will depend entirely on the type of insurance policies you’re selling.

This approach not only provides a tangible target to work towards but also helps you stay focused on taking consistent action each week. When you break it down in this way, your goal becomes far more achievable. Don’t focus on months, quarters, and years — as long as you can string enough good weeks together, you can set yourself up for a highly successful year.

Get in a Rhythm

It’s very difficult to rack up sales if you’re not getting that much momentum. Another big mistake we see among newly qualified insurance agents is the tendency to spread out appointments with potential clients throughout the week.

If you only have one or two appointments a day throughout the week, you’ll never get in a rhythm because if that day’s client stands you up or declines your offer it will set a negative tone for the rest of the day.

Instead, we recommend jam packing appointments into the first few days of your week so that you can have some small wins each day. This will allow you to build some momentum and make sales that you shouldn’t be able to make because you had those little wins and didn’t spread them out throughout the week.

As an example, you could spend the first three days of your working week running appointments and trying to meet your weekly sales quota — this way, if you haven’t met it by Wednesday, you’ll still have Thursday and Friday to do so. Figure out your rhythm and the best way of structuring your week in order to meet the sales targets you’ve set for yourself.

Complete the Required Continuing Education (CE)

Regardless of your state, you’ll most likely be required to complete a specific number of continuing education (CE) hours in order to keep your insurance license valid. While the specific number of hours you’ll be required to complete will vary depending on your state, it generally ranges between 20 and 48 hours every two years.

It’s important to make sure you check your state’s CE requirements, as each jurisdiction will have its own deadline by which you’ll be required to complete your CE hours. If you fail to fulfill these CE requirements by the deadline in your state, you’ll often be required to pay a penalty fee in order to reinstate your license.

You’ll only be able to submit a renewal application for your insurance license to the state once these hours have been completed. For this reason, we recommend completing them as quickly as possible in case you’re faced with unexpected delays.

Renewal applications are normally filed through the Department of Insurance’s office (or equivalent in your state), and can typically be submitted up to 180 days before the expiration date of your insurance license.

Pro Tip: For continuing education (CE) courses and credits, StateRequirement recommends using Kaplan, which provides access to its extensive library of reliable CE courses for up to 365 days.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Note: Alternatively, check out our guide on Insurance Continuing Education for a more in-depth look into your state’s requirements.

Steps After Obtaining an Insurance License FAQ

How long is an insurance license good for?

An insurance license is typically valid for a period of two years before it requires renewal. During this time, you’ll need to make sure you meet any continuing education requirements in order to maintain your license’s validity. For information on how to renew your license before it expires, check out our Insurance License Renewal guide.

How long does it take for an insurance license to be approved?

The duration for approval of an insurance license application can fluctuate based on factors such as state regulations and the thoroughness of the application. However, in most states, you can expect the process to take several weeks. To find out what you’ll need to do after this, see our guide on the Steps After Obtaining an Insurance License.

How much continuing education will insurance agents need to do?

The amount of continuing education you’ll be required to complete in order to keep your insurance license valid will vary depending on your state. Generally speaking, agents will need to complete a certain number between 24 and 48 credit hours every two years.

Which insurance license is the hardest to get?

Ultimately, the difficulty of obtaining an insurance license will depend on your individual strengths and weaknesses. However, licenses requiring broader knowledge, such as life and health insurance, are often considered more challenging to obtain than those for specific lines like auto or property insurance.

Ready for more?

Start Studying

Learn More