UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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An insurance agent represents the insurance company to retail customers like you. The agent’s job is to interact with customers, explain the insurance options available, and ultimately sell policies to customers.
If a customer has agreed to buy a policy or request a quote, then the agent may ask for raw data to assess the customer’s risk. The agent works with the customer to complete all of the paperwork. With big insurance companies, this process is as simple as entering information into an online form before submitting it to the underwriting department.
Agents may also work with customers to determine the best possible insurance option. A customer might need a life insurance policy and multiple car insurance policies, for example. The agent can explain whether it’s better to have a combination of policies from different insurers or if it’s better to have all policies with a single insurer.
Some companies also refer to insurance agents as account executives, account managers, account representatives, group insurance agents, sales agents, representatives, salespeople, solicitors, or policy writers.
Legal Requirements for Insurance Agents in the United States
Most states require insurance agents to abide by certain legal requirements. States may have specific rules governing the layout, content, and printing of the paperwork presented by the agent, for example. It’s the agent’s responsibility to make sure all legal obligations are met in an appropriate manner.
All legal insurance companies in the United States need to have a broker license from each state in which they do business.
Many states have signed reciprocity deals. These deals allow a licensed broker in one state to become a licensed broker in another state very easily. That means insurance companies do not have to do the same paperwork for each state in which they wish to do business.
What Do Insurance Agents Do?
An insurance agent is essentially a salesperson. The agent must have extensive knowledge of all products and policies available through their company.
Then, the agent interacts directly with customers. The agent will assess the customer’s needs, then recommend different insurance products based on their needs and budget.
Some of the key duties of an insurance agent include:
- Selling and promoting different types of insurance policies
- Identifying and recommending the best policy (or policies) for each customer based on needs and budget
- Interviewing clients to assess risks and needs
- Inspecting assets (like a vehicle) to determine their value
- Finalizing paperwork to send to the insurance company’s underwriters
Insurance agents can sell all different types of insurance, including home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance, and all other types of insurance.
What’s the Difference Between an Insurance Agent and an Insurance Broker?
Some people use the terms insurance agent and insurance broker interchangeably. Both the insurance agent and broker sell insurance policies to customers. However, they work in different ways.
An insurance agent works directly for a single insurance company. The agent only sells and promotes products from that specific insurance company.
An insurance broker, on the other hand, can promote and sell products from multiple companies.
In some cases, insurance agents and brokers will work together. The insurance agent will promote his or her company’s products to the insurance broker, and then the insurance broker will sell the products to clients.