Insurance Q&A: “How much do insurance agents make?”
Just like any other commission based sales job in the world, the sky is the limit as far as income goes for an insurance agent. However, it’s not that cut-and-dry.
There are a number of ways to get into the insurance industry as a sales agent and a lot of products to potentially master and sell. How much you get paid depends on where you start.
It’s also worth noting that, just like any other sales job, you should not expect to earn very much money until you have built a solid client base. That’s when the money really starts rolling in because of the many renewals that will begin taking place at the same time.
Of course, building a sizable book of business can take anywhere from 2-5 years (or much longer) depending on how hard you pound the pavement. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got to be in it for the long-haul because it’s not just about one-off wins.
Expect 10 “No’s” for every single “Yes.” This means you will likely have to “pitch” to 100 potential customers to sell 10 insurance policies, which should be at least half of the sales you’ll need to make to earn some decent money every single month. If you’re not already scared, keep reading. We’ll tell you about the different types of insurance agents and how they earn their money.
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How are casualty and property insurance agents paid?
Typically, an insurance agent is paid a commission, or percentage, of the total insurance premium the insurer charges for a given policy.
Property and Casualty (auto, home and business) insurance agents typically earn anywhere between 7% and 20% commission on each policy sold. If you forced us to come up with a solid number, we’d say 12% is what you can expect on average.
Example: $1,000 auto insurance policy at 12% commission would net you $120.00.
Each year, assuming your client is still happy and continues to insure with you, you will earn a “renewal” commission. Renewals are where the money’s at, as you do not have to advertise or spend time quoting the policy for it to renew (usually).
If the client makes the renewal payment, you get paid again…it may even happen while you’re sleeping.
Renewal policy commissions are often slightly less than the initial commission you get paid for the “new business.” For example, n ew business may be 15% and renewals only 10%.
As you can see, a few years into the process of building your “book” of business, the renewals from previous years virtually make your income exponential. There are few products you can sell where you get paid each year, whether you worked with the customer or not.
Example: Last year’s auto policy from the example above renews ($120.00) and you sell a new auto policy on the same day the following year, earning another $120.00 – your income for that day is now $240.00. Not a bad day’s work.
The average insurance agency, if run well, should have a target of retaining 90% of the previous year’s business.
You might lose 10% of the previous year’s business from unhappy clients who didn’t feel their insurance claim was handled well, so they shopped around and found cheaper insurance…or maybe their third cousin became an agent and they simply switched their insurance policy to him or her.
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How are life and health insurance agents paid?
Life and health insurance agents get paid a little differently. There is still a commission, but quite a bit more is paid upfront compared to property and casualty insurance.
There are also renewal commissions, but these are paid at a much lower percentage (although maybe not less overall money than a property and casualty policy, as the premium is often substantially higher).
Example: You sell a $10,000 whole life insurance policy and receive 55% commission for the first year, which is $5,500. The renewal commission may be as low as 3%, which still nets you a respectable $300 per year.
Some life insurance carriers may pay as much as the entire first year’s premium as a commission, and then not offer renewal money. The combinations of new and renewal commissions for a life insurance agent or health insurance agent can vary greatly depending on the company.
Do you want to own an agency or work for one?
How much money you earn as an insurance sales agent can also vary greatly based on whether you start your own agency or work your way up at an existing agency. Of course, there are pros and cons to both options.
In the long run, if you’re getting into insurance sales so you can afford a yacht, being the agency owner is your goal.
It’s the same as any other industry. You make more money as an employer (if you’re good enough) than as an employee, but it requires more work.
Insurance Agency Owner
Expect to make much less in the short run if you open your own insurance agency, as every dime of your income from sales will be put back into keeping the bills paid and the doors open for the first couple of years. BUT, and this is a huge “but,” you’ll make significantly more money in the long run as an agency owner…if you can manage to stay in business.
Many insurance agencies are handed down to family members or simply purchased by someone who has enough money to buy one and doesn’t want to take the time to build the business from scratch.
Agent in Someone Else’s Insurance Agency
If you are new to the industry, you will likely start as a Customer Service Representative (CSR). If you are good enough at the job, and decide you like insurance enough, you may be able to “move up” to an agent, working on behalf of your employer.
The upside to this method is that you earn money immediately upon selling an insurance policy. You do not have to pay the phone bill, rent, utilities, insurance (yes, insurance agents need insurance), etc. That’s the owner’s problem.
You might expect to have your expenses paid, and in a large enough insurance agency, a processor to do your paperwork…which is a good portion of the job.
The downside is that you will be splitting your commission earnings with the owner of the agency you work for. After all, the insurance companies who offer these products will not let “anyone off the street” represent them and sell their insurance. If you’re new to the industry, you will have to ride someone else’s coat tails until you get your footing.
What’s the difference between a captive and independent agent?
You will also have the option of being a captive agent or trying to become an independent insurance agent. Captive agents typically sell insurance for only one company, whereas an independent agent sells insurance for multiple different companies.
For captive agents, think Farmers and State Farm. This option is great for people who don’t know the first thing about insurance. Pass a “sales aptitude” test and you’re off to the races with these types of insurers.
Many captive agents switch over to becoming independent agents after enough time in the industry, as captive insurers typically have a limited “appetite” from an underwriting standpoint. You will turn many clients away if State Farm does not want to insure the individual because they are “too risky.”
After becoming a successful captive agent and building your confidence, you may decide that you want the ability to insure anyone who walks through the door. This means you want to be an independent agent.
It’s much harder to become an independent agent, as you actually have to prove you know what you’re talking about to represent various insurance companies.
You’ll very likely need to demonstrate that you have previously sold a lot of insurance to qualify for a contract to sell insurance products independently. The commissions are higher here, but you need to satisfy multiple insurer’s requirements from a policy standpoint.
You may represent 10 companies, and each of them could expect you to sell a minimum of five policies per month, or they will terminate your contract and not allow you to sell their product anymore.
So going independent will likely require a few years of experience in the industry, starting by working with an existing independent agency or buying one.
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How much do insurance agents make?
As we’ve explained above, there are many different types of agents and payment depends on the specific insurance business one works for. However, we can offer you some estimates.
Setting aside the differences between captive and independent agents, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average salary of an auto insurance agent is $50,000. With much of the salary coming in through commissions, though, the annual wage of insurance agents varies significantly. A successful insurance agent can earn over $100,000 per year.
Independent agents have the most flexibility in terms of earning power, and typically receive around 15% commission on the sale of insurance plans. Captive agents working for a single insurance company earn less at around 5%-10% commission. Commission structure will vary from company to company.
What’s the bottom line?
To sum it up, there are a number of different ways you can make money as an insurance agent, and what you put in is what you’ll get out, much like any other sales job. Don’t expect it to be easy.
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Debunking the Car Insurance Trick Ads
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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida.Joel...
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It is not easy to make a living in insurance, but it is not as hard as you might think. As with any type of sales, becoming an insurance agent can be one of the best paying hard jobs or a terrible paying easy job. Dedicated agents will become successful at insurance sales, just like at any other job.How many calls should an insurance agent make a day? ›
Making around 60 calls a day is a better goal since it allows you to keep call volume high while also giving you time to build connections and have meaningful conversations. The focus shouldn't be on the number of calls, but rather your talk time. Great insurance agents will have 3 hours of talk-time each day.How hard is it to be a successful insurance agent? ›
However, it is not an easy job. You can expect a high rate of customer rejection, stress, and attrition rate. Still, all good insurance agents share some of the following skills and knowledge, plus core qualities in one way or another.What percentage of insurance agents are successful? ›
An insurance agent can find success when they set reasonable expectations, develop a robust support system, and focus on putting their customers' needs above their own. It is estimated that new insurance agents experience a 30% to 50% success rate, with this figure gradually dropping over time.Can a insurance agent be a millionaire? ›
Is It Possible To Become A Millionaire Selling Insurance? A big yes. But like any other job, it takes time to be good at what you do and attain such income levels. Top agents earn anywhere between $100,000 to one million dollars.How do I succeed in insurance sales? ›
- People Skills. People skills are the number one characteristic of a successful insurance agent. ...
- Good Salesmanship. Insurance agents are salespeople by nature. ...
- Customer Service Skills. ...
- High Energy Level. ...
- Honesty. ...
- Knowledge on a Variety of Products. ...
- Choose the Right Carrier.
Making 100 cold calls could take you between 1-5 hours, but this greatly depends on the dialing system you're using. If you want to improve your cold calling efforts, you'll need a proper sales strategy.Is 100 calls a day a lot? ›
If you are making 100 dials a day, that's too many because it means you aren't having any meaningful conversations with prospects. If you were having meaningful conversations, you wouldn't have time for 100 dials a day.What is a cold caller for insurance? ›
What is insurance cold calling? Cold calling for an insurance company is a commonly used sales technique and entails a sales representative calling a potential customer for the first time to gauge their interest in buying an insurance plan.What type of insurance agent gets paid the most? ›
While there are many kinds of insurance (ranging from auto insurance to health insurance), the most lucrative career in the insurance field is for those selling life insurance.
The highest-paid insurance agent is Gideon du Plessis.
A record he has maintained over the last 12-14 years, selling 700 policies yearly.
A typical day for a life insurance agent involves actively pursuing potential clients by phone, mail, email, or social media; making presentations to clients or groups; and meeting with clients to discuss long-term goals and coverage options.Why do most insurance agents quit? ›
The most commonly cited reason insurance agents fail is that they fail to listen to their customers and take the time to find the best product to suit their needs. Agents who bring the right solutions to customers build trust, and that helps them build a book of loyal customers.Why are people leaving the insurance industry? ›
Compensation, work-life balance and benefits are the most frequently cited reasons for leaving the insurance industry, according to a study by Vertafore.Do insurance agents do a lot of math? ›
Math. Because insurance relies on many financial principles, it's essential for insurance agents to possess competency with numbers. The ability to make error-free calculations and analyze numerical data about insurance trends can help agents perform their work more effectively.Why are insurance agents so rich? ›
The primary way that an insurance broker makes money is from commissions and fees earned on sold policies. These commissions are typically a percentage of the policy's total annual premium. An insurance premium is the amount of money that an individual or business pays for an insurance policy.Do life insurance agents really make a lot of money? ›
Annual income for a life insurance agent can vary from as little as $28,000 per year to as much as $125,000 per year. How much money you can make selling life insurance will depend on a variety of factors, including your own ability to convert leads to customers, as well as the area in which you live.Can insurance agents make 7 figures? ›
In order to become a 6 or 7 figure earner in life insurance comes down to having a system in place. A system that produces consistent and predictable results. The system (aka the code) must start with getting qualified leads that are ready to buy from you.Is selling insurance stressful? ›
Cons of working in insurance sales
For others, it can cause stress and worry about their future financial situation. New insurance agents often work long hours to build and strengthen relationships and get their names out in the industry. Even those who do qualify for a base salary may be held to a strict sales quota.
- Create a Client profile For every prospect. ...
- Ask questions to determine their Risk. ...
- Sum up the Amount of coverage needed. ...
- Run the quote for that amount. ...
- Find out if this fits into their budget. ...
- Close the Meeting with Class.
No, being an insurance agent is not a stressful job.
About half of insurance agents work for an independent insurance agency or brokerage and sell the products of many insurance companies. Nearly 20 percent are self-employed.
“You can make 200 calls a day but if you don't have a strategy, then you are setting yourself up for failure,” Shannon Heidloff, a senior strategist at DoorDash, said. Expect plenty of rejection. A recent study from Topo said it takes an average of 18 calls to reach a buyer.How many sales calls should I make per day? ›
It is your goals/targets that sets how many calls you really need to make per day. Let's do some quick math based on some well-known industry facts: On average, sales representatives need to make 6 to 8 phone calls per prospect to have a successful cold call conversion rate.Is cold calling a fear of rejection? ›
One fear associated with cold calling is fear of rejection which, interestingly enough, results in actual pain. The pain of rejection is felt by the same part of the brain where physical pain is experienced, and therefore the body often cannot differentiate between the two.How many calls can an agent take per day? ›
The number of calls representatives answer each day varies based on the business' needs, but some may take as many as 50 calls each day. This means representatives will be on the phone for most of their shift, interacting with customers.Why salesmen are afraid to close the sale? ›
Fear of Rejection
One major reason salespeople are hesitant to close sales is that they fear rejection. It is during the close that prospects indicate whether they are going to buy. So delaying the close is natural behavior for many sales reps. They may want to develop a rapport with the buyer before the close.
This will allow a good inside salesperson to average 10-12 calls per hour while effectively maintaining and updating information in the CRM. Therefore, when asked how many cold calls per hour should an inside salesperson be able to make, a fair and reasonable response is 10 calls per hour.Why is cold calling illegal? ›
An automated calling system automatically initiates a sequence of calls to more than one destination, and transmits sounds which are not live speech, and targeted at people at the other end. The 2003 Regulations prohibit the use of such automated communications for direct marketing purposes.Is cold call illegal? ›
Is cold calling illegal? Cold calling is not illegal. However, any trader that ignores a sticker or notice on your door stating that you do not wish to receive cold calls may be committing a criminal offence.Is cold calling insurance illegal? ›
Cold calling laws only permit insurance sales between 8 am and 9 pm in the time zone of the insurance lead. This time frame is only in effect when the person being called is not a current client or customer. If the customer has said you can call at any time, this rule does not apply.
You'll enjoy job security
During a recession, insurance is more stable than other fields. That's because no matter the economy, people and businesses always need protection from risks. Employment with an insurance company or an independent agency offers greater job security than other industries.
The daily tasks of an insurance agent
Assist clients in the competition of insurance applications. Ensure all paperwork is filled out and properly filed in order to put policies in place. Customize insurance policies to meet your client's needs. Ensure all policy requirements are fulfilled.
- Freedom to Choose. One great thing about the insurance industry is that once you're a licensed health and life agent, you have the freedom to decide what type of products you want to sell. ...
- Job Security. ...
- Flexible Schedule. ...
- Helping Others. ...
- Unpredictable Income. ...
- People-Pleaser. ...
- Limited Paid Time Off.
What does an Insurance Agent do? Insurance Agents help insurance companies generate new business by contacting potential customers and selling one or more types of policies. They explain various plans to clients, guiding them in selecting a policy that suits their needs best.What is the disadvantages of being an insurance agent? ›
If you are unable to meet the sales target, your commissions will take a hit. You are likely to make less money since your earnings are highly dependent on how many and what type of insurance products you sell. Additionally, the competition in the industry is quite tough.What do insurance agents struggle with? ›
- Balancing Administrative/Operational Work With Sales.
- Finding New Leads.
- Getting Renewals.
- Managing Changes in Customer Expectations.
- Keeping Up With Technology.
Disadvantages of choosing an Insurance Agent
As with insurance brokers, there's always a chance that some insurance agents might be sales-driven. This means that they may be offering you insurance products and services aimed at closing a sale for a company. So, they might not have your best intentions in mind.
Yes, there is a high demand for insurance agents.
About 50,400 openings for insurance sales agents are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as retirement.
The number has decreased for the past five years in a row. In 2020, more than 18 million American women—about 14%—lost their life insurance coverage.What are the pros and cons of becoming an insurance agent? ›
- PRO: Your Career is Self-Directed. ...
- CON: You Don't Have a Boss. ...
- PRO: Your Income Potential is Unlimited. ...
- CON: You Never Know How Much You'll Make from Week to Week. ...
- PRO: You'll Have a Diverse Product Line to Fit all of Your Clients.
- Customer service. ...
- Numeracy. ...
- Organisation. ...
- Problem-solving. ...
- Attention to detail. ...
- Analytical skills. ...
A good underwriter is also detail-oriented and has excellent skills in math, communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. Although a university degree isn't a requirement across the board, some employers may hire you if you have relevant work experience and computer proficiency.Which insurance company pays agents the most? ›
- Asurea Insurance Services. 3.8 $401,975per year. ...
- Appreciation Financial. 3.8 $144,568per year. ...
- USA Benefits Group. 4.6 $141,475per year. ...
- ALFA Insurance Company. 3.8 $119,400per year. ...
- American Senior Benefits. 3.2 $112,579per year. ...
- Show more companies.
A typical day for a life insurance agent involves actively pursuing potential clients by phone, mail, email, or social media; making presentations to clients or groups; and meeting with clients to discuss long-term goals and coverage options.