Most insurance sales agents are based
in small offices, from which they contact
clients and provide information on the
policies they sell. However, much of their
time may be spent outside their offices,
travelling locally to meet with clients,
close sales, or investigate claims. Agents
usually determine their own hours of work
and often schedule evening and weekend
appointments for the convenience of clients.
Although most agents work a 40-hour week,
some work 60 hours a week or longer. Commercial
sales agents, in particular, may meet
with clients during business hours and
then spend evenings doing paperwork and
preparing presentations to prospective
Insurance sales agents held about 11,00,000
jobs in 2005. Although most insurance
agents specialize in life or general insurance,
a growing number of “multi-line”
agents sell all lines of insurance.
For insurance sales agent jobs,
most companies and independent agencies
prefer to hire college graduates—especially
those who have majored in business or
economics. High school graduates are occasionally
hired if they have proven sales ability
or have been successful in other types
of work. In fact, many entrants to insurance
sales agent jobs transfer from other occupations.
In selling commercial insurance, technical
experience in a particular field can help
sell policies to those in the same profession.
As a result, new agents tend to be older
than entrants in many other occupations.
College training may help agents grasp
the technical aspects of insurance policies
and the fundamentals and procedures of
selling insurance. Many colleges and universities
offer courses in insurance, and a few
schools offer a bachelor’s degree
in the field. College courses in finance,
mathematics, accounting, economics, business
law, marketing, and business administration
enable insurance sales agents to understand
how social and economic conditions relate
to the insurance industry. Courses in
psychology, sociology, and public speaking
can prove useful in improving sales techniques.
In addition, because computers provide
instantaneous information on a wide variety
of financial products and greatly improve
agents’ efficiency, familiarity
with computers and popular software packages
has become very important.
Insurance sales agents must obtain a license
in from IRDA. Separate licenses are required
for agents to sell life and general insurance.
Licenses are issued only to applicants
who complete specified pre-licensing courses
and who pass IRDA examinations covering
insurance fundamentals and insurance
A number of organizations offer professional
designation programs that certify one’s
expertise in specialties such as life,
health, and general insurance, as well
as financial consulting. Although voluntary,
such programs assure clients and employers
that an agent has a thorough understanding
of the relevant specialty. Agents are
usually required to complete a specified
number of hours of continuing education
to retain their designation.
Employers also are placing greater emphasis
on continuing professional education as
the diversity of financial products sold
by insurance agents increases. It is important
for insurance agents to keep up to date
on issues concerning clients. Changes
in tax laws, government benefits programs,
and other State and Central Government
regulations can affect the insurance needs
of clients and the way in which agents
conduct business. Agents can enhance their
selling skills and broaden their knowledge
of insurance and other financial services
by taking courses at colleges and universities
and by attending institutes, conferences,
and seminars sponsored by insurance organizations.
IRDA also has mandatory continuing education
requirements focusing on insurance laws,
consumer protection, and the technical
details of various insurance policies.
Insurance sales agents should be flexible,
enthusiastic, confident, disciplined,
hard working, and willing to solve problems.
They should communicate effectively and
inspire customer confidence. Because they
usually work without supervision, sales
agents must be able to plan their time
well and have the initiative to locate
An insurance sales agent who shows ability
and leadership may become a Development
Officer in a Branch Office. A few advance
Assistant Branch Manager (Sales) and higher
marketing positions. However, many who
have built up a good clientele prefer
to remain in sales work.