Pay for Insurance Sales Agents
The median annual wage of insurance sales agents in May 2010 was $46,770. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10% earned less than $25,940, and the top 10% earned more than $115,340.
Many independent insurance sales agents are paid by commission only. Sales workers who are employees of an insurance agency or an insurance carrier may be paid in one of three ways: salary only, salary plus commission, or salary plus bonus.
In general, commissions are the most common form of compensation, especially for experienced agents. The amount of the commission depends on the type and amount of insurance sold and whether the insurance transaction is a new policy or a renewal policy. When agents meet their sales goals or when an agency meets its profit goals, agents usually get bonuses. Some agents involved with financial planning receive a fee for their services, rather than a commission.
Insurance sales agents usually set their own hours of work and often schedule evening and weekend appointments for the convenience of 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.
Job Outlook for Insurance Agents
Employment of insurance sales agents is projected to grow 22% from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population and changes in federal regulation should increase demand for agents who sell health and long-term care insurance.
The insurance industry generally grows as a whole with the economy. Overall economic growth will continue to create demand for insurance policies. Direct online purchases of insurance are not expected to negatively affect employment of traditional sales agents, because they will continue to have a critical role in the insurance industry. Because the profitability of insurance companies depends on a steady stream of new customers, the demand for insurance sales agents is expected to continue. Employment growth should be strongest for independent sales agents, as insurance companies will rely more on brokerages and less on captive agents as a way to control costs.
Many clients do their own Internet research and get quotes from insurance companies online. Agents are still needed to interact with clients, since many people lack the time or expertise to study the different types of insurance to decide their needs. These clients will continue to rely on the advice from insurance sales agents.
Employment growth should be stronger for agents selling health and long-term care insurance. As the population ages over the next decade, demand will likely increase for packages that cover long-term care. In addition, federal regulation of health insurance is expected to bring many new customers into the market. Insurance companies will rely on sales agents to enroll people from this new customer base.
Job Prospects for Insurance Agents
College graduates who have sales ability, excellent customer-service skills, and expertise in a range of insurance and financial services products should enjoy the best prospects. Multilingual agents should have an advantage, because they can serve a wider customer base. Additionally, insurance language is often technical, so agents who have a firm understanding of the relevant technical and legal terms should also be desirable to employers.
Many beginning agents fail to earn enough from commissions to meet their income goals and eventually transfer to other careers. Many job openings are likely to result from the need to replace agents who leave the occupation or retire.
Agents may face some competition from traditional securities brokers and bankers, who also sell insurance policies. Insurance sales agents will need to expand the products and services they offer as consolidation increases among insurance companies, banks and brokerage firms and as demand increases from clients for more comprehensive financial planning.
Contacts for More Information on Insurance Sales Agents
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