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The Beginner’s Guide to Selling Insurance

By Chris Bibey
The Beginner’s Guide to Selling Insurance Feature Image
12 minute read
⚠️ Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate, neither its authors nor Aged Lead Store accepts responsibility for any errors or omissions. The content of this article is for general information only, and is not intended to constitute or be relied upon as legal advice.

Selling insurance is a competitive market—to say the least.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 445,540 insurance sales agents in the United States as of May 2022.

But the benefits can make it worth it for the brave salespeople looking to put their skills to the test and help out their clients.

If you’re interested in joining this group of professionals or have recently done so, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about this career path and industry as a whole.

In our beginner’s guide to selling insurance, we share everything you need to know to kickstart your career as an insurance salesperson.

Browse through our collection of consumer intent data and get started today.

Let’s start with the basics: What does an insurance sales agent do?

Insurance sales agents play a pivotal role in connecting individuals and businesses with insurance policies that suit their needs. Their responsibilities extend beyond mere sales.

Selling insurance involves a deep understanding of various products and the ability to match these products with client requirements.

Product knowledge

Agents must possess comprehensive knowledge of the range of insurance products they offer. This expertise enables them to clearly and thoroughly explain the benefits, coverage details, and cost implications to potential clients.

Client assessment

A significant part of an agent’s role is assessing the needs and risks of clients. This involves understanding clients’ financial backgrounds, existing coverage, and future requirements to recommend the most suitable insurance policies.

Policy customization and sales

Insurance agents tailor policies to fit individual or business needs. They explain various options and help clients choose plans that provide optimal coverage while considering their budget constraints.

Client support and service

After the sale, agents continue to assist clients. This includes helping with policy renewals, updating policies to reflect changing circumstances, and guiding clients through the claims process when necessary.

Exemplary customer service, pre and post-sale, is necessary in building a successful long-term career.

Market awareness

Successful insurance sales agents keep abreast of market trends and changes in insurance laws and regulations. This knowledge is crucial for offering current and relevant advice to clients.

Networking and relationship-building

Agents often rely on building a network through referrals, community events, and professional associations. Establishing and maintaining relationships is key to an agent’s long-term success.

Is selling insurance a good way to make money?

Selling insurance can be a financially rewarding career, but its success largely depends on individual effort, skills, and the ability to adapt to the market.

Insurance agent earnings vary based on factors such as commission rates, type of insurance being sold, and location.

The average insurance agent salary in the United States is $55,039 as of October 2023.

The following are some of the many factors to consider when evaluating the earning potential in insurance sales.

Commission-based income

Most insurance agents earn through commissions, meaning income is directly tied to the number and type of policies sold. This model offers the potential for high earnings, especially for those adept at sales and client acquisition.

Residual income

In addition to initial commissions, insurance sales often provide residual income from policy renewals. This aspect of the job can lead to a growing income over time as you build a larger client base.

Market demand

The demand for various types of insurance remains steady, as individuals and businesses continually seek to mitigate risks. This ongoing demand can translate to consistent sales opportunities.

Flexible earning potential

Unlike many careers with fixed salaries, insurance sales offer flexibility in earnings. Your income can increase with your ability to sell more and better policies, offering a degree of control over your financial growth.

Skill and effort

Success in insurance sales demands excellent communication, a strong understanding of the products, and effective client relationship management. Those who excel in these areas are more likely to see substantial financial rewards.

Market saturation and competition

It’s important to be aware of the level of competition in your area. Highly saturated markets might require more effort and unique strategies to stand out and secure clients.

Don’t forget: Insurance sales can offer a lucrative career path, but it’s not without its challenges. The potential for high earnings is there, but it requires dedication, skill, and a strategic approach to sales and client management.

How do you become an insurance agent?

Becoming an insurance agent involves a series of steps, designed to equip you with the necessary knowledge and licenses to operate legally and effectively.

Keep in mind that the requirements in your area and for your particular career path may vary.

Education requirements

Generally, you need at least a high school diploma to become an insurance agent.

However, a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or a related field can be advantageous, especially for more complex insurance types like commercial insurance.

State licensing

Insurance agents must be licensed to sell insurance in their state. This process typically involves completing pre-licensing education courses and passing state-specific licensing exams.

Choose a specialization

Decide whether to specialize in a particular type of insurance, such as life, health, home, or auto insurance. Each area may require different licensing exams.

Complete training programs

Many insurance companies offer training programs for new agents. These programs can provide valuable experience and insights into specific products and sales techniques.

Register with your state

After passing the licensing exams, you must register with your state’s insurance department. This step is crucial for legal operations as an insurance agent.

Ongoing education

To maintain your license, most states require continuing education. This ensures that agents stay updated on laws, ethics, and new products.

Gain experience

Initial experience can be gained through internships or working at an insurance agency. Building practical skills and understanding the market dynamics are key to long-term success.

Develop sales skills

Since insurance sales is a client-oriented field, developing strong sales and interpersonal skills is vital for building a client base and fostering lasting relationships.

Start practicing those sales skills with pre-qualified consumer intent data.

Is it difficult to sell insurance?

Some people will find insurance sales more challenging than others. This is a career for those who identify as a “people-person.”

Ideal agents will excel at sales conversations, handling rejection, and building client relationships.

Even if you struggle at first, more experience will result in more sales and career growth.

Let’s talk about some of the top challenges of selling insurance.

Understanding complex products

Selling insurance involves dealing with a variety of complex products. Each policy has its unique features, terms, and conditions, making it challenging to master them all.

Insurance agents need a deep understanding of these details to accurately explain them to clients. This requires continuous learning and staying updated with new products and changes in existing ones.

Simplifying these complexities for clients is crucial for successful sales, demanding both expertise and the ability to communicate effectively.

Building a client base

Establishing a robust client base is one of the primary challenges for new insurance agents.

Unlike established agents with a steady flow of referrals, newcomers must actively seek out potential clients. This involves networking, marketing, and leveraging social media to reach a wider audience.

It’s a time-intensive process requiring persistence, excellent communication skills, and often, a thick skin to handle rejections.

Success in building a client base can take time and hinges on your ability to connect with people and build trust.

Handling rejections

Rejection is a common aspect of sales jobs, and insurance selling is no exception.

Many potential clients may decline offers or show indifference, which can be disheartening, especially for new agents. Developing resilience and learning not to take rejections personally are crucial skills in this field.

Successful agents view each rejection as a learning opportunity to refine their approach and understand client needs better. Maintaining a positive attitude and perseverance in the face of rejection is key to long-term success in selling insurance.

Adapting to market changes

The insurance market is dynamic, with frequent changes in regulations, products, and consumer needs. Agents must adapt quickly to remain relevant and competitive.

To do that requires a keen understanding of market trends and regulatory changes. Agents also need to continuously update their strategies to align with the evolving market.

This dynamic environment can be challenging but also offers opportunities for those who can swiftly adapt and capitalize on emerging trends.

Navigating ethical dilemmas 

Insurance agents often face ethical dilemmas, balancing their need to make sales with the best interests of their clients.

This challenge involves ensuring that the policies sold are truly beneficial for the clients and not just profitable for the agent. It requires a strong ethical compass and a commitment to transparency.

You must be honest and clear about policy details, avoiding the temptation to oversell or push unnecessary coverage.

Upholding ethical standards not only fosters trust and credibility with clients but also contributes to the agent’s long-term reputation and success in the industry.

What is the highest-paying insurance to sell?

The earning potential in selling insurance varies by type, with commissions based on policy premiums.

Let’s break down the commission structures for auto, home, life, and health insurance.

Auto insurance

Auto insurance typically offers commissions of 5-15% of the total policy premiums.

For example, on a $1,000 annual policy, an agent might earn a commission of $100-300.

While the individual commissions per policy might not be the highest, the frequent need for auto insurance and policy renewals can provide a steady income stream.

Home insurance

Home insurance commissions are generally higher, around 15-25% of the yearly premium. For a homeowner’s policy with a $2,000 premium, an agent could earn between $300-500.

The higher commission rate reflects the significant value and importance of home insurance policies to homeowners.

Life insurance

Life insurance stands out for its substantial commission rates, often ranging from 50-100% of the first year’s premium. This is due to the long-term nature of life insurance policies.

On a policy with a $500 annual premium, an agent could earn $250-500 upfront, making it one of the most lucrative types in terms of initial earnings.

Health insurance

Health insurance commissions have adjusted with market changes, such as those brought about by the Affordable Care Act.

Currently, health insurance commissions average around 5-8% of premiums over time. An agent might earn about $100 annually on a $1,500 group health premium.

However, Medicare supplement plans offer higher commissions, ranging from 15-25% of premiums, highlighting their potential for greater earnings.

While life insurance offers the highest upfront commissions, the other types provide opportunities for consistent, long-term income, especially when considering policy renewals and the ongoing need for these insurance products.

Top 5 beginner tips for selling insurance

Starting in insurance sales presents unique challenges and opportunities. To set yourself up for success, consider these five tips for building a successful career.

1. Develop a strong foundation in insurance knowledge

As a beginner in insurance sales, your priority should be to develop a solid understanding of the insurance products you are selling.

This includes not just the basics of policy coverage and premiums but also a deeper insight into how these products can fit into your client’s lives and financial plans. What kind of client would benefit the most from this policy and why?

Familiarize yourself with the terms, conditions, and benefits of different insurance policies. Stay updated on industry trends and changes in insurance laws.

This knowledge not only boosts your confidence but also helps you gain credibility with potential clients.

2. Focus on building relationships, not just making sales

Insurance sales are built on trust and relationships. As a new agent, invest time in getting to know your clients personally. Understand their needs, concerns, and financial goals.

By focusing on building a rapport and genuinely caring about their well-being, you create a foundation of trust. This approach leads to long-term relationships, repeat business, and referrals.

Remember, successful insurance selling is not about quick transactions; it’s about being a trusted advisor to your clients. Strong relationships and customer service will pay off in the long run.

3. Leverage technology and social media

Embracing technology and social media can give you a significant advantage. Use online platforms to reach a wider audience and engage with potential clients.

Create informative content that adds value and showcases your expertise in insurance. Utilize customer relationship management (CRM) tools to keep track of interactions with clients and manage your leads effectively.

Being tech-savvy not only streamlines your workflow but also aligns you with the way modern consumers prefer to communicate and gather information.

4. Adopt a consultative selling approach

As a beginner, adopting a consultative selling approach can be highly effective. This means listening more than talking, understanding the client’s specific situation, and then recommending insurance products that truly meet their needs.

Avoid the hard sell. Instead, educate your clients about the importance and benefits of insurance. Show them how the right insurance policy can protect them from financial risks.

By positioning yourself as a knowledgeable and helpful advisor, you can navigate the sales process more effectively.

5. Continuously seek feedback and improve

Continuous improvement is key to success in any field, and insurance sales are no exception. Seek feedback from clients, colleagues, and mentors.

Learn from each interaction, whether it leads to a sale or not. Attend training sessions, workshops, and webinars to enhance your skills. Be open to new ideas and strategies that can help you grow as a sales agent.

Regular self-assessment and willingness to adapt and learn are critical for long-term growth and success in the insurance industry.

Are you ready to get started?

With this beginner’s guide to selling insurance, we hope that you have a clear path to reaching all of your career goals.

If you’re ready to push forward, visit Aged Lead Store to purchase high-quality consumer intent data.

We offer industry-low rates on auto insurance, life insurance, health insurance, and home insurance leads that are pre-qualified and ready to buy.

About Chris Bibey

Chris Bibey is a freelance writer with 15+ years of experience in the insurance and finance industries. Clients include Sales Hacker, Outreach, Discover, PayChex, and Moran Insurance. He has also worked as Head of Sales for Verma Media.

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