Insurance Sales Representative
Insurance sales agents help insurance companies generate new business by contacting potential customers and selling one or more types of insurance. An agent explains various insurance policies and helps clients choose plans that suit them. Insurance sales agents commonly sell one or more types of insurance, such as property, life, health or long-term care. Agents may specialize in any one of these products or function as generalists providing multiple products.
An increasing number of insurance sales agents offer their clients comprehensive financial planning services, especially for clients approaching retirement. These services include retirement planning, estate planning, and help in setting up pension plans for businesses. In addition to offering insurance, these agents may become licensed to sell mutual funds, variable annuities, and other securities. This practice is most common with life insurance agents who already sell annuities, but many property and casualty agents also sell financial products. Many agents spend a lot of time marketing their services and creating their own base of clients. They do this in a variety of ways, including by making “cold” sales calls to people who are not current clients. Clients often learn about policies themselves on their own, by doing comparison shopping online and getting information from the insurance companies. Then they contact the company directly to buy a policy, so the client comes to the agent ready to buy. Insurance agents also find new clients through referrals by current clients. Keeping clients happy so they recommend the agent to others is a key to success for insurance sales agents.TCC programs that are right for you:
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Although most insurance sales agents—56 percent—work for insurance brokerages selling the policies of several companies, some work directly for a single insurance carrier. Most insurance sales agents work in offices, although some may spend much of their time traveling to meet with clients. Their work environment may vary depending on the type of company that employs them. Since some agencies are small, agents may work alone or with only a few others. Insurance sales agents usually determine their own hours of work and often schedule evening and weekend appointments for the convenience of clients. Some sales agents meet with clients during business hours and then spend evenings doing paperwork and preparing presentations to prospective clients. Most agents work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of insurance sales agents is projected to grow 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. The insurance industry generally grows with the economy as a whole. Overall economic growth will continue to create demand for insurance policies. Direct online purchases of insurance are not expected to negatively affect employment of traditional sales agents, because they will continue to have a critical role in the insurance industry. Because the profitability of insurance companies depends on a steady stream of new customers, the demand for insurance sales agents is expected to continue.
Employment growth should be strongest for independent sales agents, as insurance companies will rely more on brokerages and less on captive agents as a way to control costs. Employment growth should be stronger for agents selling health and long-term care insurance. As the population ages over the next decade, demand will likely increase for packages that cover long-term care. In addition, federal regulation of health insurance is expected to bring many new customers into the market. Insurance companies will rely on sales agents to enroll people from this new customer base.
Career information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.