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What are Long-term Career Options for Life Insurance Agents?

A career as an insurance agent can be quite rewarding. Selling life insurance, for instance, is a great way to break into the insurance industry, as even novice life insurance agents can make significant income within their first year of employment. The LLQP course offered through Business Career College is the starting point for a career in life insurance and allows you to challenge the provincial licensing exams and subsequently apply for Life Insurance and Accident and Sickness licenses. But once you obtain your licenses and break into the industry, you might be wondering what long-term career options you have available to you. Let’s explore some options to enhance your career as a life insurance agent and increase your earning potential.

The career path of a life insurance agent

In Canada, life insurance agents have several attractive career path options. The most common career paths are selling insurance from multiple companies as an independent agent, joining a specific company to sell insurance through as a career agent, or exploring financial planning either as an addition to selling life insurance or a full career transition.

Career Agents

When life insurance agents are just starting, they can be a career agent (sometimes known as a captive agent), or independent agent, meaning they work for just one insurance company and sell that company’s products to clients, or they represent and sell life insurance for many companies as part of a Managing General Agency. Agencies sell insurance policies on behalf of insurers based on a contract that outlines the products the agent can sell (from that insurer) and the commission that the insurer will pay for each product sold.

Career or captive agents work for one insurance company and sell that company’s products to their clients. However, many companies allow their agents to sell other company’s products under certain circumstances. For example, an insurer that doesn’t offer a disability insurance policy may allow its agents to sell another company’s disability coverage. The benefit to starting as a career agent is that you get structured training and a structured business model. The downside is that you are accountable to work within that model, and you generally can’t change anything in that model until you have built a lot of experience.

Independent agent

Another career path that’s available is an independent agent. An independent agent has the same stability and revenue models as career agents with the added benefit of having the freedom to offer their clients a wide variety of insurance options. However, they don’t have the career agent’s benefit of structured training and a structured business model.

Independent agents have to learn everything and figure out a lot more of their business model, marketing, and regulatory structures. Industry experience and good relationships come into play here, as the independent agent benefits greatly from working with individuals throughout the industry to help better match products to client circumstances.

Financial planning

Some individuals start with a career in life insurance and then get their certification to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) professional as an addition to their education. From here, they have the option to label themselves as a financial planner and start doing financial planning work in addition to life insurance or make the transition to a full-time financial planner.

Specializations: Chartered Life Underwriter, Elder Planning Counselor, or Certified Health Insurance Specialist

Specializations are available for life insurance agents or other professionals to differentiate themselves from others in their profession or be able to offer specialized advice to clients.

  • The Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) certification is widely respected in the financial services industry and is ideal for financial professionals who want to specialize in life insurance for business or estate planning.
  • The Elder Planning Counselor (EPC™) certification gives professionals the tools and training they need to give elders advice on a variety of topics, including financial, social, health, and estate planning. The EPC™ certification has no prerequisites.
  • The Certified Health Insurance Specialist (CHS®) certification is unique in that it is the only certification in Canada that is focused on living benefits insurance. Health insurance is complex and confusing for clients to navigate on their own, so CHS professionals can help give clients peace of mind that they are choosing the best options for themselves.

A Career as an Insurance Agent

Being an insurance agent isn’t a static career path; there are many options for you to move forward with specialized knowledge, industry experience, and continuing education. Regardless of what path you choose, you’re sure to find that a career as someone selling insurance the right mix of rewarding and challenging.

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