What Insurance Sales Agents Do
Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.
Most insurance sales agents work in offices, although some may spend time traveling to meet with clients. Some sales agents meet with clients during business hours and then spend evenings doing paperwork and preparing presentations to prospective clients.
How to Become an Insurance Sales Agent
Although most employers only require agents to have a high school diploma, many agents have a bachelor’s degree. Agents must be licensed in the states where they work.
The median annual wage for insurance sales agents was $50,940 in May 2019.
Employment of insurance sales agents is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Many clients do their own research and purchase insurance online. However, agents will still be needed to help clients understand their options and choose a policy that is right for them.
Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance. Insurance sales agents explain various insurance policies and help clients choose plans that suit them.
Insurance sales agents typically do the following:
- Call potential clients in order to expand their own customer base
- Interview prospective clients to get information about their financial resources and discuss existing coverage
- Explain the features of various policies
- Analyze clients’ current insurance policies and suggest additions or other changes
- Customize insurance programs to suit individual clients
- Handle policy renewals
- Maintain electronic and paper records
Insurance sales agents commonly sell one or more types of insurance, such as property and casualty, life, health, and long-term care insurance.
Property and casualty insurance agents sell policies that protect people and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, and other events that can damage property. For businesses, property and casualty insurance also covers workers’ compensation claims, product liability claims, or medical malpractice claims.
Life insurance agents specialize in selling policies that pay beneficiaries when a policyholder dies. Life insurance agents also sell annuities that promise a retirement income.
Health and long-term care insurance agents sell policies that cover the costs of medical care and assisted-living services for senior citizens. They also may sell dental insurance and short-term and long-term disability insurance.
Agents may specialize in selling any one of these products or function as generalists providing multiple products.
An increasing number of insurance sales agents offer their clients—especially those approaching retirement—comprehensive financial-planning services, including retirement planning and estate planning. In addition to offering insurance, these agents may become licensed to sell mutual funds, variable annuities, and other securities. This practice is most common with life insurance agents who already sell annuities, but many property and casualty agents also sell financial products.
Many agents spend a lot of time marketing their services and creating their own base of clients. They do this in a variety of ways, including making “cold” sales calls to people who are not current clients.
Potential clients often use comparison shopping tools online to learn about different policies and get information from insurance companies. Clients can either purchase a policy directly from the company’s website or contact the company to speak with a sales agent.
Insurance agents also find new clients through referrals by current clients. Keeping clients happy so that they recommend the agent to others is a key to success for insurance sales agents.
Insurance agents may work for a single insurance company or an insurance brokerage.
Captive agents are insurance sales agents who work exclusively for one insurance company. They can only sell policies provided by the company that employs them.
Independent insurance agents work for insurance brokerages, selling the policies of several companies. They match insurance policies for their clients with the company that offers the best rate and coverage.
Insurance sales agents held about 501,300 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of insurance sales agents were as follows:
|Insurance agencies and brokerages||61%|
|Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers||9|
|Direct health and medical insurance carriers||4|
Most insurance sales agents work in offices, although some may spend time traveling to meet with clients.
Some sales agents meet with clients during business hours and then spend evenings doing paperwork and preparing presentations to prospective clients. Most agents work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of insurance sales agents.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.
|See How to Become One||$63,000|
Advertising Sales Agents
Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$53,310|
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents
Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$50,730|
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents connect buyers and sellers in financial markets.
Sales managers direct organizations’ sales teams.
Insurance underwriters evaluate insurance applications and decide whether to provide insurance, and under what terms.
Personal Financial Advisors
Personal financial advisors provide advice to help individuals manage their finances and plan for their financial future.
For more information about insurance sales agents, visit
For more information about insurance sales agents in the healthcare industry, visit
For more information about certifications, visit
For more information about securities licensure, visit
Information about insurance sales agent licensure is available from state insurance department websites.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Insurance Sales Agents,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/insurance-sales-agents.htm (visited ).