Selling Life and Health Insurance: Great Job for Hard Times?

When you think of jobs that have staying power in a recession, selling insurance may not immediately leap to mind. You may think of creative and highly technical jobs that can’t be outsourced or people who sell services everyone needs, regardless of the economy—people like doctors, nurses, and teachers.

But, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the job prospects for insurance agents in a multitude of fields are growing faster than the economy as a whole—it’s projected to grow 22% in the next ten years, as opposed to a projected overall job growth figure of 14%.

The handbook also points out health insurance agents as particularly well positioned for growth—because everyone needs health insurance, and because even more people will need it after the Obama health care initiative was signed into law. It’s possible that insurance companies may sign up more insurance sales agents in anticipation of the law’s full implementation in 2014.

Life insurance is also growing as a career field. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, big insurers are hiring thousands of life insurance agents, taking advantage of weaker job markets in real estate, finance, and the law to find qualified people.

According to the article, the new resurgence in the life insurance market comes at a time when investors are reeling from significant investment losses—making life insurance seem like a safer investment and easier to sell. Insurance companies are anticipating that investors will be drawn to life insurance in larger numbers now—and that they’ll be well positioned to offer it as an alternative to risky stock investments.

Even so, selling life and health insurance isn’t easy—even in this market. We’ve written before about how Obama’s new health care law may actually hurt the job market for health insurance agents [link to article about Obama’s health care law and health insurance agents], not help it. And while long-term care insurance is frequently cited as an up-and-coming product for a growing older population, it remains expensive, confusing, and difficult to sell—with its own challenges in overcoming buyer resistance [link to article about long-term care insurance].

Start-up can be more risky for agents these days as well, since many companies are choosing to hire independent agents and forego paying the start-up costs for captive agents. Still, it’s looking like the outlook isn’t all bleak. There may be significant opportunities for insurance agents in this area of specialty—even in a down economy.

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