Selling Insurance for a Living

By Eric Hammer

Do you love talking to people and getting to know their life story? If so, you may be able to make a very good living selling insurance to them. While the pushy insurance salesman is an unfortunate stereotype, the reality is that a good insurance salesperson is not only someone who is welcome, they are considered to be a great friend of the family because they help people to obtain a service which is absolutely vital to the and which they probably would not like to talk about with most people.

Think about it - when you are selling insurance to someone, you are in essence making them a bet. You are betting them that they won't get sick, won't get into a car accident, won't get robbed, won't die, won't get sued for malpractice or whatever else you happen to be offering them an insurance product for.

Who really wants to think about their own death or about getting sick or some other such thing? It's a terribly morbid subject and as such, insurance salespeople (at least those who are good) are able to finesse the discussion and let people schmooze quite a little bit while minimizing the time they spend thinking about what is really a depressing thought for most people.

How Much Can You Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, selling insurance can be a pretty lucrative business, with the top 10% of insurance agents earning annual salaries of over $113,930 per year. Of course, few jobs have a wider range of earning potential since the bottom 10% of insurance salespeople earn just $26,120 on average for the year. Mostly, this is a matter of ability since virtually all insurance salespeople work either partially or completely on commission.

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Bottom line, if you want to earn your living selling insurance, you had better truly love people and love talking to them. Insurance sales is a business where you need to meet a lot of different people and help them size up what they need.

In fact, many insurance salespeople report that a big part of the their job is being a kind of therapist, helping people to feel comfortable with the decision that they make to purchase insurance since it is sometimes a touchy subject.

Beyond that, consider selling more than one kind of insurance (typically, you'll need to get licensure for each type) and consider also getting licensed in more than one state, especially if you live in an area where there are multiple states in a single area such as the New York tri-state area.

In all cases, don't be too pushy. While you will get some sales from being the stereotypical insurance salesman, ultimately, you'll lose more customers than you'll gain because people will decide they simply don't like you. Sales is a business where you need to have a tremendous amount of finesse and selling insurance is definitely one of those areas.

Qualifications / Requirements

While a college degree is not absolutely required, it is highly recommended for becoming an insurance agent since most companies prefer to hire college graduates. You'll also need to apply for licensure in your own state (Check on Google or your favorite search engine for the details since the rules vary from one state to the next, though typically this involves a certain number of courses and exams that you'll have to pass for each kind of insurance you want to sell.). Finally, check with your state insurance licensing board about continuing education requirements as many states have a requirement that you take additional courses every few years to keep up to date on the latest laws and regulations regarding selling insurance.

First Steps

Start by contacting your state licensing board to find out what their rules are for becoming an insurance agent and get yourself licensed. Then, look into smaller firms where you are more likely to land a job as an agent right away. Bigger firms tend to prefer to see a track record before they'll hire you. Or, you can also apply for work as a customer service representative with one of the bigger firms, which will offer you invaluable experience.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about selling insurance for a living:

Investopedia: Becoming an Insurance Agent - An excellent resource on how to become an insurance agent. This article provides all the basics and also focuses on the increasing role of insurance salespeople in financial planning as well.

InsureMe: How to Become an Insurance Agent - A somewhat frothy discussion of selling insurance for a living, but over-all, lots of useful information.

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