Forging a Career in Insurance Sales — The Complete Guide


Insurance sales is a highly lucrative industry. Paul Moss, Founder of HeyDriver and a 14+ years insurance veteran, says, “There is a lot of cheddar to feed the mouths of insurance professionals.” He adds that the industry is easily accessible to anyone.

career in insurance sales materials including a briefcase and papers

With a diploma, you can start working as an insurance salesperson. Stay long enough, and you could get massive results. Take Cody Askins, for instance. He started working in the insurance industry at just 20 years old. He made a goal to make 6-figures during his first year, and in only eight months, Cody made over $117,000.

The kicker: success in this industry doesn’t come easy. Like Cody, you’ll get more “no” than “yes.” But if you can handle many “no” without faltering, you’ll do great in this industry. In this guide, we’ll explore everything about starting a career in insurance sales, including the pros, cons, and tips to help you succeed.

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As a licensed professional, you can work as a captive or independent agent. Captive agents sell insurance for only one company. Independent agents represent multiple insurance companies.

The Pros of Working in Insurance Sales

Tony Caldwell, author, speaker, and mentor in the industry, says, “Working in insurance offers tremendous opportunities to build a profitable, challenging, and satisfying professional career.” Here’s why.

Limitless Earning Potential

Many insurance sales agents get commission-based income. So what you choose to earn is entirely up to you. Provided you’re committed, you can set your income bar at five, six, seven, or eight figures. You can also earn passive income from the policy renewals of customers.

Noble Profession

Working as a salesperson in the insurance industry lets you make a real difference in people’s lives. “No matter how shy you are about selling insurance, you help people in ways they will never know unless they get into a life-changing accident,” says Paul Moss, Founder of HeyDriver.

Excellent Work-life Balance

Many insurance companies offer flexible work arrangements that give you a good work-life balance. This helps you achieve increased productivity, makes you less stressed, and gives you enough time for your personal or family life.

Job Security

As long as people drive cars, need medical care, employ workers, run businesses, and have a life, they’ll need insurance. And that means your job is secure even during recessions.

Cons of Working in Insurance Sales

The insurance sales industry isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Rejection is one element that makes this profession effing tiring. But here are others:

Commission-based Pay

Many insurance sales agents work as independent contractors. Working as one means you’ll file your taxes, pay your health insurance and benefits, and buy your work tools. Plus, you rarely have a base salary. Even if you’re lucky to get a base salary, you must still hit your quotas. These underscore why knowing a company’s compensation plan before working with them is vital.

Lots of Paperwork

Documentation is necessary to show the evidence of a contract. And in insurance sales, you’ll be doing lots of it.

Tony Caldwell, author and creator of 250+ insurance agencies, says, “Insurance sales require you to keep up with administrative tasks like paperwork.”

Though essential, paperwork is also time-consuming, and many great salespeople struggle to keep up. “Fortunately, tech tools can simplify the process so you have more time to build client relationships, instead of punching in data,” adds Caldwell.

High Failure Rate

According to Investopedia, over 90% of new life insurance agents quit within the first year. The rate increases to over 95% when extended to five years. Insurance segments like health do not have these high quit rates.

Sometimes, agents quit because they get burned out trying to convert company leads that a half-dozen ex-agents may have pitched. Other times, they try hard to find exclusive leads through techniques like cold-calling.

To improve your chance of success in this industry, Veronica Moss, an insurance broker since 1999, recommends you thoroughly know how the industry works. “If you don’t know, ask for help,” adds Veronica.

Entry Level Insurance Sales Roles

If you’re considering a career in insurance sales, exploring the various entry-level positions in the industry can be helpful. These roles provide a solid foundation to develop your sales skills, build relationships with clients, and contribute to the growth of insurance companies.

This section highlights three entry-level insurance sales jobs and outlines their responsibilities, qualifications, and average salaries.

By gaining insight into these roles, aspiring you can better understand the opportunities that await you in the insurance sales industry and make informed decisions about your career path.

1. Insurance Sales Agent

Responsibilities

  • Identifying potential clients and reaching out to them to offer insurance policies
  • Conducting needs assessments and recommending suitable coverage options to clients
  • Explaining policy features, benefits, and premium payment details
  • Customizing insurance packages to meet individual client needs
  • Generating leads through networking, referrals, and cold calling
  • Building and maintaining relationships with clients to foster loyalty and retain business

Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent (some employers may prefer a bachelor’s degree)
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Proficiency in sales techniques and negotiation
  • Good understanding of insurance products, policies, and regulations
  • Ability to work independently and meet sales targets

Average Salary: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for insurance sales agents was $49,840 as of 2021. However, salaries can vary based on factors such as location, experience, and commission structure.

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2. Insurance Customer Service Representative

Responsibilities

  • Assisting clients with inquiries, policy changes, and claims processing
  • Providing exceptional customer service by addressing concerns and resolving issues
  • Educating clients about policy details, coverage limits, and claim procedures
  • Processing policy renewals, endorsements, and cancellations
  • Collaborating with insurance agents and underwriters to ensure accurate policy information
  • Maintaining client records and updating databases

Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent (some employers may prefer an associate‘s or bachelor’s degree)
  • Excellent customer service and problem-solving skills
  • Strong verbal and written communication abilities
  • Familiarity with insurance terminology and policies
  • Proficiency in using computer systems and relevant software

Average Salary: The average salary for insurance customer service representatives varies depending on factors such as location, experience, and company size. According to salary data from PayScale, as of 2021, the average annual salary for this role ranged from $31,000 to $53,000.

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3. Insurance Underwriting Assistant

Responsibilities

  • Assisting underwriters in evaluating insurance applications and determining risk levels
  • Collecting and analyzing applicant information, such as financial records and medical history
  • Conducting research and gathering data to support underwriting decisions
  • Preparing quotes, policies, and endorsement documents
  • Reviewing policy documents for accuracy and completeness
  • Communicating with agents, brokers, and clients to obtain necessary information

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or a related field (some employers may accept relevant work experience in lieu of a degree)
  • Strong analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Attention to detail and accuracy in data analysis
  • Proficiency in using underwriting software and tools
  • Knowledge of insurance industry regulations and policies

Average Salary: The average salary for insurance underwriting assistants varies depending on factors such as location, experience, and company size. According to data from Salary.com, as of 2021, the median annual salary for this role ranged from $45,543 to $58,226.

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6 Tips for Working in Insurance Sales

To help you start a career in the insurance sales industry, follow these tips to increase your odds of success.

1. Learn how to build relationships.

People need to trust you before buying your insurance product. Being pushy with the sale won’t cut it. Instead, building an excellent relationship by empathizing with clients helps you gain their trust over time. It also makes your work feel less of a chore.

When conversing with clients, genuinely ask about their professional and personal interests. Using this information to spark conversations lets clients know you listen and they’ll trust you. This trust can lead to the sale of your product and even up-sells and referral opportunities.

Trust also helps you end objections like, “I want to think about it,” “I would like to talk to my business partner,” or “I don’t have the budget for this.”

2. Let clients take the driver’s seat.

The ability to listen is a superpower of closers. While you’d want to lead the discussion with your clients, letting them take the driver’s seat by talking is best. It prevents you from turning off clients and hindering the sale.

When you listen, you’ll know your clients’ needs, and you’d be able to influence the sale of your product. But knowing your client’s needs doesn’t mean they’ll buy. Why? They may not want your insurance coverage right away. That’s where asking good questions comes in.

These questions will help you lead the client to the outcome of not fulfilling their need. But without listening, you can’t even know these questions because you’ve been doing most of the talking.

3. Master storytelling.

Storytelling is a powerful tool for delivering any message. We can’t forget books like Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and The Odyssey by Homer. If you don’t want clients to forget about your product in a hurry, tell stories.

When trying to sell your product, tell stories of other clients who got the financial assistance they desperately wanted. Connecting with clients using your own story is also acceptable.

This story should relate to the negative outcome of not using your product or the positive outcome of using your product. Either way, the client will get the message, and you’ll be one step closer to winning the sale.

4. Exude confidence.

Confidence comes from knowledge. The more you know about the insurance industry, the less the uncertainty, in your words. Clients prefer to buy from an agent who doesn’t use phrases like “I think, I guess, maybe, perhaps, probably, or as far as I know.”

These words show a lack of confidence and can crush a client’s trust in you and your product. To fix this, use words that show certainty. They prove you’re knowledgeable about the industry.

As Daniel Lettman, Business Development Executive at Access Insurance, puts it, “Be a sponge. Learn, grow, and keep developing your skills.” This can help you change a client’s thought from “I don’t decide on the first day of learning about products” to “let’s get my partner onboard.”

5. Leverage social proof.

Social proof is an incredible phenomenon where people assume an action is correct because other people have taken the same action.

Whether you work as a captive or independent agent, you can get social proof by asking your clients to write reviews for your product on third-party review sites like Trustpilot. You can go a step further by asking your company to feature your happy clients in a case study.

When discussing your product, show clients these testimonials or case studies. Besides convincing the client to use your product, these types of social proof will boost your confidence because you’re certain your product works.

6. Network with peers in the industry.

Networking with your peers is an excellent way to stay current and learn about new opportunities. You can do this by joining social media groups like the Insurance Professionals on LinkedIn or by attending networking events.

Sites like Eventbrite and Patch.com help you find local insurance events to socialize with other agents, share your marketing strategy, and refer business to each other. Be sure to attend events early so you can meet the organizers, connect with them, and follow them on their preferred social media channels.

Applying for an Entry-level Insurance Sales Job

Finding a job in insurance sales is easy. You can do this with platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. That said, you need to assess a company’s financial health before accepting an offer. Sites like A.M. Best provide financial health details and show the company’s rating based on its size.

It doesn’t matter if the company is “big.” Some big companies may not be the best company.

Your state insurance commissioner‘s website is another place to look. It contains the complaint history against companies you’re considering. If a company has a high number of complaints, avoid them. Working with a company that has a poor reputation can cause burnout and quickly grind your career to a halt.

Starting Your Insurance Sales Career

If your goal is to become an entrepreneur, you’ll have lots of room to begin a career in insurance sales and succeed. For instance, after staying in the insurance business for 14+ years, Paul Moss, the owner of Moss Corporation has successfully generated over $600 million in premiums and $300 million in revenue.

Paul has a great success story. But here’s the thing: his first few months in the industry were tough. Yours will be as well. However, if you can set a goal for yourself, roll up your sleeves to build relationships and handle rejections with grace, you could start winning within a few months of joining the insurance sales industry.

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