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What should you expect from working in the insurance industry?

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency...

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®https://res.cloudinary.com/quotellc/image/upload/insurance-site-images/truthaboutins-live/2020/03/joel-ohman.jpg

UPDATED: Jul 1, 2020

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Insurance is the universal expense that everyone hates to pay for. But when insurance saves us financially, everyone is infinitely grateful for it. Whether it’s a car accident, a house fire, or an unexpected medical emergency, insurance is there to help cover our assets through the perils of life – and even death.

Because insurance is such an important product, the industry needs mentally sharp, honest, and compassionate people to represent its organizations. The better the agents, marketers, and underwriters, the better the customer experience and the better protected we are as a whole.

With this February being the 5th annual Insurance Careers Month, it’s as good a time as any to consider what the insurance industry can offer in terms of job descriptions, pay, and career outlook.

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Why should you work in the insurance industry?

There are many benefits to choosing a path in insurance.

The Insurance Industry Has Great Flexibility

Since insurance is largely sold online and even across state boundaries, many workers in the industry can work from home or elsewhere remotely. They can often communicate with clients over the computer or phone, and they can schedule in-person meetings on an as-needed basis.

The Insurance Industry Has a Solid Job Outlook

People need insurance regardless of how the economy is doing, so insurance is always in demand as a product. And despite tech disruptions and innovations, sales agents are far from obsolete. Many people still prefer the personalized attention of an agent.

The job outlook in the insurance field is promising according to the numbers. The demand for insurance sales agents is expected to remain steady and employment opportunities are expected to grow 10 percent by 2028.

The Insurance Industry Has High Pay Potential

How much do insurance agents make? It’s tricky to put a number to it, but if you’re in insurance sales, the sky is the limit. You’re typically paid on a commission, or a percentage of the total insurance premium the insurer is paid.

The average commission of an agent is about 12 percent, though that number varies by insurance type and provider.

Your potential depends on your client base, which takes time to grow. But once you have loyal clients, you’ll start making money each year when they enroll in and renew policies annually.

The Insurance Industry Has Plenty of Entry-Level Opportunities

It’s a relatively simple process to become a captive agent, which means you represent a particular insurance carrier and work solely for them. Generally, this involves passing a sales aptitude test. Additional experience, degrees, or career certificates in a business-related field will help you land a job.

As a captive agent, the insurance provider will initiate the training required for an insurance license, which includes the following:

  • Instruction
  • State certified training
  • Background check and fingerprinting
  • Testing
  • Licensing paperwork

You Can Work for Yourself in the Insurance Industry

With enough experience, you can run your own privately-owned business selling policies from many different insurance companies as an independent insurance agent, also known as an insurance broker.

As an independent agent representing multiple insurance companies, you can generally earn more and also answer to the client rather than to an agency.

Be aware that as an independent agent, you may be held to selling a minimum number of policies per month to continue selling policies from a certain insurance carrier.

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What types of insurance jobs are out there?

Whatever your career or educational background, it’s likely there’s a place for you in the insurance industry. An insurance company usually employs people in the areas of tech, sales, operations, medical, marketing, legal, human resources, and accounting. So whatever your background, there’s probably a place for you.

Here’s a sampling of some specific roles you might consider:

  • Account Manager – manages new and renewing client information and needs at an agency
  • Claims Adjuster – also known as an insurance examiner, analyst, specialist, appraiser, or investigator, they estimate the value of insured items and decide how much the insurance company owes
  • Claims Clerk – handles paperwork related to policies, including processing new policies, modifying existing policies, and handling claim settlement paperwork
  • Customer Service Rep – helps customers with questions about their individual policies or what the insurance carrier offers. May take details from customers after insured properties are damaged
  • Insurance Advisory Organization Employee – analyzes patterns of loss, pricing, and other aspects of coverage based on data to help create the next set of policies
  • Insurance Educator – writes and speaks publicly about the importance of insurance
  • Marketer – uses online and offline marketing efforts such as email newsletters, online ad campaigns, and search engine optimization to sell insurance products
  • Product Developer – comes up with creative insurance solutions to provide improved policies for customers and improved systems for carriers
  • Regulation Employee – works in a state regulatory agency to investigate bad insurance practices that may be unfair to the consumer as well as consumers trying to cheat insurance carriers
  • Risk Analyst – assesses an applicant’s level of risk based on information they’ve provided in application or claims forms
  • Sales Agent – contacts customers to sell insurance products. May work for an agency, brokerage, or insurance carrier
  • Underwriter – may set prices for various insurance policies and evaluates a candidate for risk to determine if the minimum criteria are met

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What are some common types of insurance?

Many people who work in the insurance industry are well-versed in several insurance types, but if you’re particularly interested in a certain type of insurance, that can help guide you to the right career in the industry. While not comprehensive, the following list includes some common insurance types:

  • Burial Insurance
  • Business Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Flood Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Motorcycle Insurance
  • Personal Insurance
  • Pet Insurance
  • Renters’ Insurance
  • RV Insurance
  • Travel Insurance
  • Vision Insurance

What are some challenges to working in insurance?

As with any job, working in the insurance industry comes with its challenges.

Consistent Regulation Changes

The insurance industry is subject to strict legal requirements and changing regulations. For example, health care reform with the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required health insurance providers and agents alike to change client eligibility requirements among other dramatic shifts.

Dealing with Rejection

Just like with any sales job, rejection is a part of the job. Expect the word “no” a lot to your cold calls or emails. Keep in mind that most people are already covered to some extent with several insurance products, so you’re competing with the status quo.

And when it comes to convincing consumers that a new type of insurance would benefit them, it can be hard to convince them that enrolling, gathering documents, and paying a premium is worth their time and money. If you’re just breaking into the industry as an agent, don’t expect to make a lot of money right away.

Facing the Competition

Technology, including AI, can streamline the process for matching people with insurance products that will work for them. There are tons of online insurance options where you’re not communicating much with an agent. But at the same time, as an independent agent, you’ll be competing with these online resources unless you establish affiliate partnerships.

On the plus side of automation innovations, tech integration with the insurance industry is creating a bigger demand for tech jobs in insurance.

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What’s the big picture impact of insurance jobs?

When you’re working in insurance, you are directly and indirectly helping prepare someone financially for risks by protecting their assets in the most thorough way possible and at the best possible price. If you work in an agency, you often get to know people in your community on a personal basis.

Picture this: If you’re in contact with a client while they’re submitting a claim, they’re likely having one of the hardest days of their year, or even the hardest day of their life.

As an insurance worker, you have the opportunity to help problem-solve with empathy and clarity.

Clients are often in desperate need of help from someone who is knowledgeable and can see the scenario clearly. You, as their agent, are able to provide that for them. Working in insurance is not easy, but it can be extremely rewarding.

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Author Bio:

Rebecca Graham writes to empower readers to make sound financial decisions based on thorough research. She currently manages Best Company’s career certification content.

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