Property and Casualty Insurance Agents and Brokers
Approximately 410,050 insurance sales agents, including property and casualty insurance agents and brokers, are employed in the United States. Insurance companies are the principal employers; however, about 12 percent of agents and brokers are self-employed. Some agents also work for banks and securities brokerages, due to increased integration of the finance and insurance industries.
College graduates are frequently hired through campus interviews for salaried sales positions with major companies. Other graduates secure positions directly with local agencies or brokerages through placement services, employment offices, or classified advertisements in newspapers. Many high school and college graduates apply directly to insurance companies. Sometimes individuals employed in other fields take evening or home-study courses in insurance to prepare for employment in this field.
Once hired, the new agent or broker uses training materials prepared by the company or by industry trade groups. In smaller agencies, newcomers may be expected to assume most of the responsibility for their own training by using the agency's written resources and working directly with experienced agents. In larger organizations, initial training may include formal classroom instruction and enrollment in education programs such as those offered by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. Sometimes insurance societies sponsor courses designed to help the beginning agent. Almost all agents receive direct, on-the-job sales supervision.
Sales agents may advance in one of several ways. They may decide to establish their own agency or brokerage firm, join or buy out an established agency, or advance into branch or home office management with an insurance company.
Self-employed agents or brokers often remain with the organization that they have developed for the length of their careers. They may grow professionally by expanding the scope of their insurance activities. Many agents expand their responsibilities and their office's sales volume by hiring additional salespeople. Occasionally an established agent may enter related areas of activity. Many property insurance agents, for example, branch out into real estate sales. Many agents and brokers devote an increasing amount of their time to worthwhile community projects, which helps to build goodwill and probable future clients.
Tips for Entry
Find a part-time job or volunteer opportunity focused on customer service. Frequent interactions with customers will provide experience in sales and public speaking.
Contact insurance companies or their local representatives to learn more about their policies and the overall insurance industry. If possible, schedule an information interview with an agent or broker.
Join a professional organization, such as Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, to stay current on the latest new and trends in insurance.