Property and Casualty Insurance Agents and Brokers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Insurance companies typically insist that their agents have at least a high school diploma, and most strongly prefer their agents to have a college education. There are a number of classes you can take in high school to prepare yourself both for college and for working in the insurance industry. If your high school offers business, economics, or finance classes, be sure to take advantage of these courses. Mathematics classes will also give you the opportunity to develop your skills working with numbers, which is an important aspect of insurance work. Computer courses will allow you to become familiar with this technology, which you will use throughout your career. In order to develop your communication skills—essential for any salesperson—take English and speech classes. Finally, consider taking classes that will give you insight into people's actions, which is another important skill for a salesperson. Psychology and sociology classes are courses that may offer this opportunity.

Postsecondary Training

Although college training is not a prerequisite for insurance work, those who have a college degree in economics, finance, or business will probably have an advantage starting out in this field. Many colleges and universities offer courses in insurance, and a number of schools offer a bachelor's degree in insurance. Classes you are likely to take in college include finance, accounting, and economics. Business law and business administration classes will give you an understanding of legal issues and insurance needs. Also, psychology courses may help you to increase your understanding of people. Finally, keep up with your computer work. Courses that teach you to use software, such as spreadsheet programs, will keep your skills up to date and make you more marketable. For some specialized areas of property insurance, such as fire protection for commercial establishments, an engineering background may prove helpful.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Those agents who wish to seek the highest professional status may pursue the designation of chartered property casualty underwriter. To earn the designation, agents must complete at least two years in the field successfully, demonstrate high ethical practices in all work, and pass a series of examinations offered by the American Institute for Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters. Agents and brokers may prepare for these examinations through home study or by taking courses offered by colleges, insurance associations, or individual companies.

The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research ( offers the certified insurance counselor and certified insurance service representative designations to agents and brokers who complete short seminars about issues in the field. Contact the alliance for more information.

All agents and brokers must obtain licenses from the states in which they sell insurance. Most states require that the agent pass a written examination dealing with state insurance laws and the fundamentals of property and casualty insurance. Often, candidates for licenses must show evidence of some formal study in the field of insurance. Most states also require licensed insurance agents to complete continuing education in the field every two years, on subjects such as insurance laws, insurance policies, consumer protection, and ethics.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Previous experience in an internship or student-agency program will be useful for aspiring agents and brokers.

An agent or broker must thoroughly understand insurance fundamentals and recognize the differences between the many options provided by various policies. This knowledge is essential to gain the respect and confidence of clients. To provide greater service to customers and increase sales volume, beginning agents must study many areas of insurance protection. This requires an analytical mind and the capacity for hard work.

Successful agents and brokers are able to interact with strangers easily and talk readily with a wide range of people. For example, an agent or broker may need to talk with teenagers about their first cars, with business executives faced with heavy responsibilities, or with widows confronted for the first time with financial management of a home. Agents and brokers must be resourceful, self-confident, conscientious, and cheerful. As in other types of sales occupations, a strong belief in the service being sold helps agents to be more successful in their presentations.

Because they spend so much of their time with others, agents and brokers must have a genuine liking for people. Equally important is the desire to serve others by providing financial security. To be successful, they must be able to present insurance information in a clear, nontechnical fashion. They must be able to develop a logical sales sequence and presentation style that is comfortable for prospects and clients.

Successful agents and brokers may participate in community and service activities to stay visible within their communities and to maintain or increase their volume of business. Agents and brokers often have an unusual facility for recalling people's names and past conversations they've had with them.