Do you have the ability to connect with people and the desire to help those in your community? If so, you’re in the right place, especially if you live on the West Coast. These qualities are highly sought after by companies seeking to appoint new insurance agents in California.
To become an insurance agent in California, or anywhere, you will of course need an insurance license. but you will need something else that is just as important: tenacity and discipline. If you have those qualities, the actual job might not be as challenging as you anticipate. “Take it from me,” says Brianna Rowe, a growth coach and strategist who began her 15-year sales career with Aflac as an agent, “with the proper care and training procedures, you can be successful.”
In other words, an insurance agent’s success can depend as much on determination and a willingness to learn as it does on prior knowledge of the industry.
What are the qualities of a good insurance agent?
- Eager to learn. Depending on the insurance company you work with, you may have official training as part of the job. At Aflac, first-year training gives aspiring insurance sales agents the resources and tools they need to thrive. “We provide state-of-the-art training,” Rowe says. “This can be overwhelming at first: it’s a new language, a new industry. that’s why we support new recruits with tools and resources. but just like learning a new sport, it’s about commitment.”
- a knack for connecting with others. selling insurance is different than selling a one-time purchase. A charismatic salesperson may be able to convince someone to make a one-time purchase, but charm alone is not enough to achieve the kind of ongoing relationship insurance agents have with their clients. Agents work closely with their clients to establish a connection and nurture their relationships over time. the ability to understand what other people need can go a long way in maintaining relationships, as can strong listening skills.
- perseverance. or dedication, grit, fortitude, persistence – take your pick. When we asked five insurance industry recruiters what agents need to be successful, this was the first thing everyone said. agents can be told “no” many times, and it takes tenacity to develop a relationship that turns that “no” into a “yes.”
- adaptability. can you change gear quickly? that’s an asset in this business. As an insurance agent, you may meet business owners of all sizes, warehouse and small-town store employees, and everyone in between. being able to transition into each environment, like a chameleon, is invaluable.
- the desire to serve. Introverts can be just as successful as extroverts in selling insurance. “Many of our sales leaders are quite introverted.” says reese golchin, an aflac marketplace recruiter. “But I find that introverts, and extroverts, but this can be even more of a driver for introverts, like the idea of helping people. that makes them pass the barrier of being in front of people.”
- The ability to use what you have. A college degree can help, as can sales experience. but it is not essential either. instead, draw on your own life experience. The qualities of a good insurance agent are often nurtured from experiences that have nothing to do with insurance, including:
- theater. As an insurance agent, you’ll need to be able to stand and present in front of people you don’t know. delivering an engaging and memorable presentation goes a long way, and experience in overcoming nerves only helps.
- education. “education students can be great at this,” rowe says. “They are used to interacting with all kinds of people; they are used to educating and teaching.”
- Sports. The discipline, drive and perseverance you cultivate as an athlete can make for a seamless transition into this industry. And if you played a team sport, the transition can be even easier. “The skills you develop as part of an athletic team are an asset in this field,” says Meaghan Mutrie, a market recruiter for Aflac. “You know that if one person drops the ball, everyone is affected by it.”
- Business. Having broad interests and knowledge of how businesses operate is extremely beneficial, both personally and with the clients agents serve. “Having small business skills (marketing, basic accounting) helps,” says Jennifer Ramos Nubie, a market recruiter for Aflac. “You’re wearing all the hats.”
- military. remember the part about discipline being a major asset? If you’ve been in the military, you’ve had world-class training in discipline. And many Aflac veterans report seeing their Aflac sales career as an extension of what they did in the military: helping people.
- Hours of study: In California, the Life, Accident and Health license is the highest line of authority for which you can take the exam, and your previous 52 hours of study to license are the highest of all insurance licenses.2 If you are applying for more than one license and have already taken the required 12 California Insurance Code and Ethics hours, those 52 hours are reduced to 40.3
- Take the Exam: After you have passed the prelicensing courses, you must pass the state licensing exam for each line of insurance for which you are seeking a license. visit the california test administrator to schedule an appointment. will answer between 75 and 150 questions, depending on the type of insurance license.
- Fingerprinting: Fingerprints may be taken before or after the exam.
- Apply for License: Visit the California Insurance Licensing site for more information.
insurance license requirements in california
so you’re qualified and ready to take the first step toward obtaining your insurance license. After that, how long does it take to become an insurance agent in California? If you have been working with a carrier that provides training and assistance with obtaining licenses, you can start as soon as you are licensed and designated with the carrier.
Regardless of your background, if you’re interested in the insurance industry, remember that it’s less about having prior experience and more about your desire to help others. “I’m interested in your soft skills,” says Mutrie. “I’m looking for hungry people.”
that motivation is worth it. and it pays well. as rowe says, “if you’re ready to go to work, this is going to be a dream.”