Career Outlook for Life Insurance Agents in 2022 Looks Promising

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a catalyst for increasing consumer awareness of the importance of having life insurance. In fact, according to CNBC, many life insurance firms experienced double-digit increases in the number of life insurance policies they have sold during the pandemic compared to the previous year. Given that the core purpose of life insurance is to provide financial security for survivors in the event of death, it makes sense that there was a bit of urgency to purchase life insurance once the pandemic began.

Putting COVID-19 life insurance panic buying aside, the outlook for careers in life insurance remains strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average growth rate for an occupation as an insurance sales agent is 8% — a number that is expected to steadily increase until 2030. However, growth in careers for agents selling life, health and long-term care insurance is expected to hit double digits due to the growing number of aging Americans, according to an industry update by Kaplan Financial Education.  

Another attractive benefit of a career selling life insurance is the salary. According to ZipRecruiter, as of Sept. 21, the average annual pay for a life insurance agent in the U.S. is $79,730 a year. However, ZipRecruiter reports seeing annual salaries as high as $174,000 and as low as $20,000 — with the majority of life insurance agent salaries ranging between $50,000 and $99,500. The career-finding website also notes that based on a person’s skill level and years of experience, the industry holds many more opportunities for advancement and increased pay.

Location also plays a big part in the salary of a life insurance agent. Currently, the top 10 cities where the salary of a life insurance agent is above the national average are:

1 – San Francisco, California ($97,877)

2 – Fremont, California ($93,957)

3 – San Jose, California ($91,777)

4 – Oakland, California ($90,774)

5 – Tanaina, Alaska ($90,520)

6 – Wasilla, Alaska ($90,519)

7 – Sunnyvale, California ($89,395)

8 – Hayward, California ($88,872)

9 – Jackson, Wyoming ($88,398)

10 – Norwalk, Connecticut ($88,278)

Unlike property and casualty insurance, life insurance can be a hard sell. However, once a policy is sold and issued, the commission payments keep coming in the form of renewals for as long as the policy remains in force. And while the commission percentage drops a bit after the first year (typically around 5% to 10% on the policy’s anniversary date), this passive income accrues automatically without the agent having to solicit a renewal.

Despite the growing need, there are fewer life insurance agents today compared to in previous generations. Not only have more opportunities opened up, but because of the need, a greater number of companies/agencies also are considering training new hires who don’t have any insurance background at all. According to Investopedia, “There might not be any sign in the window, but the agencies are hiring and will most likely consider [a candidate] regardless of what line of work [he or she was] in before.”

Conclusion

Every September during Life Insurance Awareness Month, the insurance industry focuses on promoting the importance of life insurance. If you are a life insurance professional or are considering a career in life insurance sales, we hope this article provided some insight into a very rewarding occupation. 

About FastrackCE

The process of becoming an insurance agent requires passing pre-licensing exams. You’ll also need to complete a certain number of continuing education credits every few years to maintain your license; the exact number depends on the state you live in.

When you’re ready, FastrackCE can save you time and money by helping you get all your life, health and long-term care continuing education credits in one place and on your schedule. We also offer a wide range of property and casualty continuing education courses, including most of the state-mandated courses, such as ethics and flood and annuity insurance training. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

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September Is a Great Time To Promote Life Insurance

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM), when, for 30 days, the insurance industry and the nonprofit Life Happens come together to educate consumers about the important role life insurance plays in protecting families. In a nationwide campaign that addresses the growing life insurance coverage gap in the U.S., LIAM dispels myths and misconceptions surrounding life insurance by presenting consumers with the facts.

If you’re a life insurance agent, September can be a great time to start building your life insurance book by tapping into the resources that LIAM offers. The following are key highlights from research presented by the Life Happens organization and the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA) that can help you in creating a life insurance marketing strategy for raising awareness for this valuable coverage.  

Misconceptions:

· 46% of Americans say they have put off purchasing the coverage they know they need, in part because they view the buying process as overly complex and intimidating.

· 29% of American workers believe the coverage they get through work is enough. However, research shows that the median life insurance coverage offered at the workplace is either a flat sum of $20,000 or one year’s salary — far below what most dual-income households typically need financially to live.  

Affordability:

·Younger consumers who do not yet have a spouse/partner or dependents often believe they can put off buying life insurance until they are older. However, life insurance is significantly less expensive when purchased at a younger age.

·More than half of Americans overestimate the cost of life insurance, believing a policy to be three to six times more expensive than it really is. The fact is, the cost of term life insurance for a healthy 30-year-old is around $160 per year. Yet 44% of millennials estimate it to be more than six times higher — at a costly $1,000.

·For some individuals, approaches to securing more affordable coverage can include starting small and increasing coverage limits over time, buying as much coverage as possible while young and healthy, starting with term life, locking into a renewal guarantee, and applying any applicable premium discounts.

COVID-19:

·Since the onset of COVID-19, 36% of Americans said they plan to purchase life insurance this year, with 48% of millennials indicating they are likely to buy coverage before the end of 2021.

·LIMRA research shows that the pandemic has greatly raised consumers’ awareness and interest in life insurance as they realize whom they have a responsibility to provide for. 

·The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of simplified underwriting. According to LIMRA, 48% of consumers say they are more likely to buy life insurance using simplified underwriting.

Financial:

·42% of households said they would face financial hardship within six months if a primary wage earner were to die unexpectedly, with 25% suffering financially within just 30 days.

·Misperceptions about cost, coupled with prioritizing other financial needs, have put many families needlessly at risk of financial hardship should a wage earner die unexpectedly. Today, more than ever, it is necessary for insurance professionals to educate consumers on the importance of creating a budget that includes life insurance. 

To learn more and to access life insurance resources, visit the LIAM website and watch the LIAM video. As a supporter of LIAM, you can also visit the LIMRA research website for videos, factsheets and infographics.

About FastrackCE

Need to complete your life and health insurance continuing education credits? FastrackCE can help you save time and money by getting all your life, health, and property and casualty continuing education credits in one place and on your schedule.

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Shifts in the Economy Prompt Changes to Decades-Old Life Insurance Tax Code

In December 2020, Section 7702 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code IRS tax code was amended, resulting in the first major change to the tax code since 1984.

If you’re not familiar with it, Section 7702 was created specifically to differentiate between a genuine life insurance policy and investment vehicles imitating life insurance contracts. The main objective of Section 7702 is to ensure that only legitimate life insurance policies receive tax-advantaged treatment. It also defines just how much tax-free money is permitted to accumulate inside a permanent life insurance policy.

Simply put, Section 7702 determines whether a life insurance contract actually qualifies for tax benefits and how proceeds from a life insurance policy are to be taxed.[1] If a contract fails to meet the government’s definition of a legitimate life insurance policy, any proceeds from the policy will be considered taxable as ordinary income — whether money is withdrawn from the policy or not.[2]

What has changed? 

The amendments to Section 7702 will now permit certain life insurance policies to build cash value up to an established limit and in proportion to the policy premiums paid, before the IRS considers the policy a modified endowment contract and taxes it accordingly. For policy owners, this change will allow them to put more cash into the savings portion of permanent life policies.

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. House staff report that the changes to Section 7702 were necessary “to reflect economic realities” and provide consumers “access to financial security via permanent life-insurance policies.”

To be more reflective of current economic conditions and low interest rates, Section 7702 has also changed the guaranteed insurance rate for the cash value accumulation in permanent life insurance policies from 4% to 2% for this year, and will use a variable rate moving forward.

Conclusion

In general, the overall consensus is that amendments made to Section 7702 will provide benefits to the industry as well as consumers, helping stabilize the life insurance industry amid historically low interest rates and making permanent life insurance more attractive to the public.   

About FastrackCE

Do you have a looming deadline for completing your life and health insurance continuing education credits? FastrackCE can help you save time and money by getting all your life and health and property and casualty continuing education credits in one place and on your schedule.


[1] IRS.gov.
[2] Investopedia.

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Are Your Life Insurance Clients Underinsured?

Next month signals not only the beginning of fall, but also the start of Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM). Every year during the month of September, Life Happens, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products, raises awareness regarding the importance of life insurance.

With 102 million adults living with an uninsured or underinsured life insurance need gap, you likely have clients in your book of business that require more life insurance coverage. During LIAM, the Life Happens website provides resources and information you can use to better educate prospects and insureds on the importance of reviewing life insurance policies to identify possible gaps in coverage. 

Most Americans that have life insurance through work don’t have enough coverage

According to the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association, of the 59% of Americans who have life insurance, more than half don’t have enough coverage. The main reason is that most households have coverage through a group life insurance plan — policies that are typically offered through the workplace.

The problem with group policies is that they are designed to accommodate all employees and often fall short of meeting their individual needs. LIMRA research shows that an estimated 9 million households with group life benefits fall short of having enough life insurance coverage, with an average coverage gap of at least $225,000.

At best, most group life policies will provide death benefits equal to or double the employee’s annual salary. For clients with a family, a mortgage and other significant debts, this likely isn’t going to be enough. In general, it is recommended that couples, especially those with children or who are carrying large debts, should have anywhere from five to 12 times their annual salary in coverage.

Group policies often have fewer options

While an employer’s group life insurance policy is nice to have, in many cases, it shouldn’t be the sole source of protection. Because group plans are established by the employer, employees may not always have the option to increase their coverage as their lives and financial situations change — such as with the adoption or birth of a child, marriage, a change in income, or purchase of a new home.

Another challenge with having life insurance through the workplace is that some policies may be final expense or burial insurance policies with a death benefit of, say, $10,000 to $15,000. And while this may be offered as a no-cost or a low-cost benefit, it clearly falls short of what most American families need to maintain their current standard of living should the primary wage earner pass away. In addition, most group policies aren’t portable. In the event the employee leaves his or her job, coverage under the employer-sponsored group plan will typically end.

Conclusion

The fact is, life insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. By relying exclusively on group coverage through the workplace, employees are missing the opportunity to personalize their coverage based on their specific needs. During LIAM, take the time to strategize on how you can better educate your clients on the potential shortcomings of group life insurance policies. A good place to start is by scheduling a life insurance needs assessment to determine whether your clients may need to supplement their coverage with a stand-alone life insurance policy.

About FastrackCE

Need to complete your life and health insurance continuing education credits? FastrackCE can help you save time and money by getting all your life and health and property and casualty continuing education credits in one place and on your schedule.

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What Makes Selling Insurance in a Hard Market So Challenging?

There has been a great deal of noise in the insurance industry regarding our current hard market cycle. But what exactly is a hard market and what makes selling insurance such a challenge in this type of economic environment?

What is a hard insurance market?

In the insurance industry, a hard market cycle can be characterized as a period of time when there is high demand for insurance products but a low supply of available coverage. Key factors such as inflation, fraud, increased litigation and weather-related catastrophic claims events are a few of the many contributors to a hard insurance market. More recently, the hard market was exacerbated by COVID-19.   

In a hard market, you are more likely to be up against:

  • Fewer available options. With a limited market, insurers will be more selective in the risks they are willing to accept. 
  • Increased premiums. To compensate for the many contributing financial factors as listed previously, insurers typically end up increasing their rates.
  • Changes in acceptance rules. In response to tight market conditions, carriers may not be willing to renew certain policies, or even permit changes to be made on policies in the middle of a term due to changes/updates in their risk appetite.   

Hard insurance market selling tips

There is a lot of advice out there regarding how to improve sales performance in a hard market cycle. Basically, it all boils down to deploying the following three main tactics.

  • Start the new-business and renewal processes early. With more stringent underwriting criteria, you need to plan on a longer lead time for applications. Plus, getting started early provides the extra time needed to re-market accounts that may have been nonrenewed. Typically, the optimal time frame in which to submit new-business applications is 120 to 150 days ahead of the proposed inception date, and 90 days for renewals.
  • Submit full and complete applications. Incomplete Acord applications, missing supplemental forms or absent loss runs will only delay the quoting/renewal process. This can be frustrating for insureds having to wait until the last minute. A complete submission will help an underwriter quickly and efficiently log in new business, streamlining processing and avoiding delays. 
  • Maintain communications with policyholders. For renewals, it’s important to help insureds understand what they might be up against in terms of their coverage and premium. For example, if you know that the incumbent carrier will be looking at a 15%-20% increase or is reducing general liability limits on a particular line of coverage, convey this to your insureds — and do so as early as possible. Then, see how you might be able to help them secure the coverage/limits/pricing they need. Not only does this demonstrate your commitment to service, but it also helps determine whether you need to approach another carrier.  

Conclusion

To be clear, efforts insurers impose in a hard market aren’t meant to make things more difficult for agents, but instead are set to ensure that companies remain financially secure so that they can make good on their promises to pay claims. By starting the marketing process early, submitting complete submissions and maintaining communications with policyholders, you’ll be in a stronger position to successfully ride out this cycle.

About FastrackCE

Focus less on your continuing education credits and more on selling! At FastrackCE, you can get all your life and health and property and casualty continuing education credits done in one place and at your convenience.  We offer online courses in most states covering a broad range of topics, including most of the state-mandated courses that include long-term care – to name just a few. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

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