Auto Insurance Agent: Job Description & Requirements
Learn about a career as an auto insurance agent. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.
An auto insurance agent sells policies that protect vehicle owners from financial loss through damage, car accidents or auto theft. They sell coverage for property loss, natural disasters and vandalism. Policies may also cover incidental charges, such as towing and rental car costs while a damaged vehicle is being repaired. Independent auto insurance agents who work as 'brokers' look at policies from several insurance companies to find the best deal for their clients; 'captive' agents only sell policies for one insurance carrier. Independent brokers usually work on commission, while staff agents are generally paid a salary. Common duties include contacting prospective customers, sometimes through cold calling, providing information on different policy types, tailoring policies to clients' coverage needs and financial status, maintaining records, renewing current policies and assisting with claims.
Auto insurance agents are typically employed full time. They may work flexible hours and meet with clients in the evenings and on weekends. Some auto insurance agents, especially those who work independently, complete administrative and marketing tasks around regular work hours. Most people in this position spend their time in an office setting, but they may also travel for client meetings.
Depending on the company, a high school diploma may be sufficient for many auto insurance agent positions; however, a bachelor's degree program with coursework in finance, business administration, economics, sales and public speaking is preferred by some employers. Most auto insurance agents learn their duties through on-the-job training under experienced agents. As state and federal laws change the needs of policy holders, agents may be expected to continue their education through college courses or seminars.
Auto insurance agents must be licensed in each of the states in which they operate. Licensing requirements vary by state, but may include the completion of educational prerequisites, insurance exams and continuing education courses. Agents can also obtain optional certification from organizations such as the American Institute for Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that auto insurance agents must have the below qualities:
- Strong communication, sales and customer service skills
- Sense of initiative and follow through when possibly cold calling customers
- Good computer skills, including familiarity with Internet research, databases, spreadsheets and word processing programs
- Familiarity with state insurance laws
- Multiple language skills is a plus
Employment and Salary Outlook
The BLS predicted a 22% job growth for all insurance sales agents between 2010 and 2020, which was faster than the national average for all occupations. Employment opportunities should be highest for independent auto insurance agents as insurance companies increasingly outsource their work to brokerages. Candidates with demonstrated sales ability, formal training and a broad knowledge of insurance products may have an advantage. Auto insurance agents can be paid on salary, commission or a combination of both; in 2012, the median annual earnings for insurance sales agents were $48,150, according to the BLS.
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