What does an insurance agent do? (Types, salary and skills)
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Working as an insurance agent is an excellent job for those who want to help others, enjoy customer service and plan to build a career in sales. Becoming an insurance agent requires preparation, so if you've taken an interest in working in this field, it might be beneficial to understand the education, training and skills required to become an agent. In this article, we answer ‘what does an insurance agent do', discover the types of agents, explore their average salary, learn about their work environment and understand the steps and skills required to become a successful agent.
What does an insurance agent do?
If you're strong with numbers, you may want to know what does an insurance agent do. An insurance agent is a salesperson who sells insurance policies based on their customers' requirements. These agents develop strategies to promote the different policies they sell. After evaluating the needs of an individual or business, these agents propose insurance plans for them to choose from. Based on their speciality, they may sell health, life, long-term, short-term, property and casualty insurance or dental insurance. While the job duties may vary based on the agent's speciality, some common duties are:
identifying sales opportunities for selling insurance plans
scheduling appointments with prospective clients, identifying their needs and marketing insurance products
ensuring policy proceeds after claim submission and approval
analysing customer's policy needs and suggesting appropriate addition or changes
tracking insurance claims to ensure customer satisfaction
creating marketing strategies to compete with competitor's products
maintaining insurance records of their customers
describing the advantages and disadvantages of the insurance product they sell
creating insurance premium payment methods
keeping up-to-date with insurance-related regulatory development
recommending risk management strategies based on the customer's existing risk profile
helping clients with policy renewal procedures
Types of insurance agents
There are two different insurance agents:
1. Captive agent
When you become a captive agent, you sell insurance products for only one company. Such agents have in-depth knowledge of insurance policies, discounts, coverage add-ons and other insurance products. They can streamline their insurance process and develop underwriting knowledge. Often, these professionals earn a low commission because they receive a fixed salary every month from the insurance agency or company.
2. Independent agent
An independent insurance agent sells insurance policies for multiple companies. As they offer different policies by and for multiple companies, an independent agent can provide a competitive environment. They compare the prices and insurance coverage of all insurance policies they sell. As a result, they can offer suitable policies and insurance products at favourable prices and terms. Many customers prefer working with an independent agent because they provide a variety of insurance products.
How much does an insurance agent make?
The average salary of an insurance agent is £24,558 per year. Their exact salary can depend upon the years of experience, employer, skill set and job location. For instance, the average salary of an insurance agent in Manchester is £30,189 per year, whereas the average salary in Swindon is £21,662 per year. Often, the insurance speciality can affect the earning potential.
Skills of an insurance agent
Here are some skills to master for a rewarding career as an insurance agent:
Insurance agents deal with internal and external customers daily and they require excellent written and verbal communication skills to interact with their customers. Listening to a customer's requirements and reading non-verbal cues is essential to close an insurance deal. To explain a policy's advantages and disadvantages, these professionals communicate complex information in a way that's easily understandable to their audience. Through their communication skills, an agent keeps everyone in the organisation informed.
The key to success in an insurance agent role is providing excellent customer service. This means listening to a customer's requirements and recommending products or policies that meet their needs. It also entails making the customer feel comfortable so that they can trust you with their money. An insurance agent with excellent customer service skills is honest, responsive, attentive and professional.
Proficiency in numeracy
As an insurance agent, you work with numbers to calculate the policy's premium or determine the accurate insurance cover. Errors in premium or insurance cover calculation can cause customer dissatisfaction because it would need correction at some point. This skill may be helpful in making last-minute revisions or changes in the insurance plan. Good proficiency in numbers and mathematical calculation is desirable for a successful career.
Ability to learn quickly
An insurance agent requires in-depth knowledge of various insurance products because it helps sell the right product to the right customer. Learning how different products work and understanding which insurance plan is ideal for a customer is desirable for this job role. To sell insurance products, they require knowledge of various tax and legal aspects related to insurance.
Attention to detail and organisation
Employers prefer hiring candidates who can easily spot mistakes in an insurance plan. As this job involves payments, attention to detail is essential to eliminate calculation or other error types. As agents deal with multiple clients simultaneously, they require organisational skills to maintain records, follow up with customers and schedule appointments.
Employers prefer hiring candidates who are comfortable using different computer software. An agent may use word processing software, spreadsheet, email or insurance quoting software to complete their day-to-day activities. Agents use their computer skills when creating marketing strategies to sell insurance products.
How to become an insurance agent
Follow these steps to become an insurance agent:
1. Complete your education
While there is no specified educational requirement for an insurance agent, many insurance agencies prefer hiring candidates with a high school diploma. Often, agencies require a candidate with a bachelor's degree in law, economics, business administration, finance, accounting or related areas. As this role requires an in-depth understanding of legal and financial aspects of the insurance industry, having strong business acumen and basic finance knowledge can help in faster career growth. Consider pursuing subjects like maths and communication to develop the required skills.
2. Select your specialisation
Before starting your career, choose an insurance specialisation. When you choose a speciality early on, you can gain professional experience that can help fast-track your career. For instance, if you want to become a life insurance agent, you can undergo a training program designed for the specialisation. When choosing your speciality, keep in mind your educational qualification and interest. Some common insurance specialisation to choose from are:
3. Search for an entry-level job
To become eligible for certified insurance training, you require some years of experience. After completing your bachelor's degree, look for entry-level jobs in the insurance industry. Consider applying to jobs like trainee agent or insurance technician.
Read More: How to find the best jobs for you
4. Complete your certified training programme
To increase your chances of getting hired for a desirable insurance agent position, consider completing a certified training programme from Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). Based on your speciality, you can pursue any of the following training programmes:
CII Diploma in insurance
CII advanced diploma in insurance
CII Level 3 certificate in insurance
CII Level 4 certificate in insurance
5. Complete the requirement for obtaining a licence
To become an insurance agent, you require a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) licence. FCA regulates the financial service industry. For obtaining a licence, you submit an application giving proof of your qualification, experience and training. Before applying for a licence, ensure you fulfil the registration qualification for your speciality and location.
6. Create your resume and apply for jobs
After obtaining your licence, create your resume listing your skills, qualifications, experience, certification and licence. When creating your resume, read the job description, pick out keywords and add them to your resume. This makes you resume applicant tracking system (ATS) compliant. Then, tailor your resume for every job, upload it on various job portals and apply to a suitable insurance agent's job.
The work environment of insurance agents
An insurance agent spends most of their time in an office environment. They spend an extended period sitting at their desk to create insurance plans, meet customers' requirements and maintain records of their customers. When they're not in the office, they travel to their customer's locations to meet them in their office or homes. While most agents work during regular business hours, they may work outside business hours to meet prospective clients.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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