Life insurance agents do more than sell policies in today's world. Of course, they sell the product that gives the industry its name. However, they also tend to acquire a wide variety of additional skills. These include estate planning, pension plan set-up, and retirement planning. Every state requires life insurance continuing education credits when agents renew their licenses. CE credits are important keys to maintaining and building professional development.
This particular industry has seen resurgence since the economic recession. Many companies downsized agents prior to the slowdown. They relied on financial advisers, stockbrokers, banks, and the internet for sales. Whole life policies were touted as unattractive products. Many financial planners advised clients to purchase cheap term policies. They suggested investing the money that clients saved in the stock market. When the stock market plummeted, however, those "unattractive" whole life policies retained their value.
Many companies are now actively recruiting agents. They recruit former real estate agents, mortgage brokers, bankers, and lawyers. Life insurance agents have a difficult path. Seventy percent of agents earn less than $35,000 in their second year. Only twenty percent stay on the job for four or more years. After the fifth year, however, agents who persevere can make $100,000 or more.
There are many different types of continuing education courses. Firm element and regulatory courses include ethics and suitability, prevention of money laundering, securities products, economic topics, and FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) rules and regulations. Agents can also take courses in accelerated benefits, annuities, and distribution planning. They can take courses in health and benefits insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, and health savings accounts.
Each state has its own CE expectations. License renewal most often occurs every two years. States can require from around twenty to around thirty hours of courses. State insurance departments decide what the expectations will be. Some of them require very specific coursework. For example, nineteen states, as of recent data, required consumer protection and ethics training.
Courses should be state-accredited and nationally approved. Some firms will reimburse their agents for CE. Others will expect the agents to pay on their own.
Firms looking to push many agents through CE should take some extra steps. The most important is to make sure that the provider offers a wide variety of courses, and that the courses cover all of the services that the firm offers. This means checking for CPA, CIMA, ChFC, CFP, and CLU offerings. Small firms should seek out a local government compliance officer. Large firms should hire a compliance specialist with Series 7, 24, and 63 licensure.
All states set and maintaining life insurance continuing education requirements. These requirements are different from state to state. Therefore, it is important to do due diligence before committing to a CE provider. In a growing industry, licensure compliance and continuing education are major priorities.