How to Get a Job as an Insurance Agent
Insurance requires more expertise than many other sales jobs, says Robert Rusbuldt, president of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. But at the end of the day, employers are looking for strong sales skills, an aggressive, positive attitude, and very strong interpersonal and verbal communications skills. "Being an extrovert helps—you are in sales, after all," he says. "Being able to forge relationships with people, particularly in the commercial lines of business," is very important. "Employers want to know that you're a person of integrity and someone they can rely on," he says.
While knowledge of insurance and prior training in the field are always a plus, Rusbuldt says hiring managers want people who are willing to learn and hungry for a career in the field. "You can teach insurance," he says. "You can't teach the willingness to learn."
Interview Questions Submitted by Real Insurance Agents
"What are your 4 skills you believe will help you sell? - American Income Life Insurance Sales Agent Candidate (Schaumburg, IL)
"Do you have any sales or customer service experience?" - Bankers Life & Casualty Sales Agent Candidate (Chatsworth, CA)
"Is there a particular market you would start with? Do you have a particular market in mind?" - Northwestern Mutual Agent/Sales Representative Candidate (San Jose, CA)
What is the Job Like?
Rusbuldt says the client-development work of an agent makes the field ideal for self-starters who want the independence of setting their own hours and, especially for commercial-lines agents, spending time in the field. Agencies encourage their agents to spend time volunteering in their communities, working with charities, and being active in business and civic groups. "They have a lot of flexibility in their schedule," he says.
Rusbuldt adds that there can be a big difference in the jobs of property-casualty agents and agents who sell mostly life insurance. Property-casualty agents earn recurring commissions and thus can develop a solid book of business over time that will generate residual commission income and the need to keep close customer ties to encourage policy renewals. Life insurance agents, he says, earn most of their money through sales of policies to new customers and not through renewals. For them, finding new clients is key, and they tend to be more focused on meeting new people.
Opportunities for women and minorities have been growing rapidly, particularly among Hispanics. "The lifestyle of an independent insurance agent is perfectly suited to someone who has the ability to do different things, who wants control over their schedule, and who wants to be involved in their community," Rusbuldt says.
Real Reviews From Insurance Agents
+ "Freedom of work hours. Unlimited potential (commission based)." - New York Life Insurance Sales Agent (Location Unknown)
+ "Very flexible with work schedules. Tremendous mobility, both geographically and vertically." - State Farm Insurance Sales Agent (Asheville, NC)
- "Long and overly in depth training process for anyone with experience. Very large emphasis on cold calling and phone pounding." - Liberty Mutual Insurance Agent (Idaho Falls, ID)
- "Each agency is its own small business. Pay and benefits depend on the agent." - Allstate Insurance Agent (Fairhope, AL)
Review information and interview questions supplied by Glassdoor.