Insurance Continuing Education Courses – Select Your Area of Specialization

The insurance continuing education courses vary from each state and if you are planning to take up these classes then make sure you make a research of the subjects and specializations that fall under your state. Check out the list of subjects that are approved by your state. You can take the correspondence program online and prepare for the exams qualifying which you can avail lucrative job offers in the insurance industry. As there is no need to attend the classroom sessions, you don’t have to take time out from your other commitments. Just download the module that is sent to you and go through it to learn the details about the subject. You can qualify the examination easily and be a certified insurance agent.

You can select from the courses including Property, Casualty, Home, Life insurance and the like. Choose your area and start preparing for the examinations. Once you have decided your area of specialization, you can make the payment online and receive an acknowledgement for the same. You need to appear for the examination and pass with a score of at least 70%. If you fail to score this, you need to reappear for the examination. You need to appear for the examination online. You do not need any special kind of software. You just need to log into the website and answer the multiple-choice questions. The credit hours vary from each state therefore you need to check the credit hours that are applicable for your state in the website. The results of the examination of realised immediately and you would be receiving a mail of the certificate within two days. Once you are qualified, you are certified forever as an insurance agent. You are provided with a social security number that acts as your license.

As you don’t have to stick to the classroom sessions for taking this examination most of the people find it convenient to take them. With this examination, an agent becomes proficient with the course of material and is well verse with the terms of insurance industry. With the number of employment opportunities growing in the insurance industry and the competition getting stiffer day by day, qualifying such exams would make your path easy to tread. If you are new in to the world of insurance industry then such qualifications help you in getting a good job opportunity. If you were already working as an insurance agent this certification would help you in growing or gaining better opportunities. Therefore, enrol yourself in the insurance continuing education courses today.

The insurance continuing education courses available online are easy to take and do not kill much of your time. Even though you are preoccupied with your other commitments, you can undergo this course and be a certified agent. Take a look at the online courses and choose area of specialization today. With such flexibility offered you can certify the exam easily!

Insurance Agents – How Does Yours Measure Up?

Insurance agents can be some of the most important people you’ll ever do business with. They will help you protect your property, your assets and your finances. The work of an insurance agent has the potential to save you from financial ruin.

You could go through your whole lifetime and not need the services of an attorney. You could live and die and not have to use an accountant. But you can’t live in “the real world” without insurance agents.

But remember…it’s YOUR responsibility to learn which coverages are right for you.

Have you ever heard a story from a friend or relative who filed an insurance claim, only to find out that the coverage their agent promised was not there? I hear those stories ALL THE TIME, and at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME…AT CLAIMS TIME!

I began my insurance career as an agent in 1973. I kept my agent licenses active until 1992 when I became an insurance adjuster. During that period of time, I sold nearly every kind of insurance imaginable. That gave me a depth of experience in insurance sales. But all of that experience did not make me an expert in insurance. I learned risk analysis and sales techniques. But I don’t think that I ever had one minutes’ training in how to handle a claim. When my clients had a claim, I gave them the company’s phone number and told them to call it in. We occasionally filled out an Acord form, which is a standard industry form for filing a claim. That was all we did.

The best agent is a person who has spend time studying insurance, not a person who is an expert in sales. The largest percentage of insurance agents of all types are sales people, not insurance experts. Your agent may or may not be an expert in insurance. You’ll have to simply ask your agent what his education level is.

There are a lot of colleges and universities that offer degrees in insurance today. In our area, the University of Georgia offers degrees in Risk Management and Insurance. It’s a pretty well-respected program.

Agents can also become experts in insurance by going through continuing education, such as the Certified Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) education program. Life insurance agents can achieve the Certified Life Underwriter (CLU) professional designation. There are other designations available to agents, but those two are the most widely accepted educational programs.

Agents in most states also have to complete a state-required number of Continuing Education hours each year in order to maintain their insurance licenses. If they don’t complete the hours, the state cancels their licenses.

An agent has a duty to you, called the “fiduciary duty.” That means that he must keep your financial well-being first in his priorities. If an agent sells you an insurance policy because it has a higher commission than another policy, he has breached his fiduciary duty to you.

Agents usually carry a type of liability insurance called “Errors and Omissions” liability insurance. Errors and omssions (E&O) is the insurance that covers the agent’s company, or the agent individually, in the event that a client holds the agent responsible for a service he provided, or failed to provide, that did not have the expected or promised results. This protects agents and their clerical staff from liability due to negligent acts, errors and omissions while conducting their business. It will protect the agent from problems like the following examples:

1. loss of client data. The agent simply loses your file, physically or electronically.

2. system or software failure. Computer at the agent’s office crashes and all data is lost.

3. negligent oversell. The agent sells you coverage you don’t need, or sells you coverage limits higher than necessary.

4. claims of non-performance. This is a broad category but needs to be. This could include charges that an agent did not sell the proper policy, or the proper amount of coverage.

The number 4 example above is the most prevalent and most dangerous for agents. Here’s why.

People today have multiple insurance exposures, like:

auto physical damage

auto liability

uninsured or underinsured motorists exposures

homeowner physical damage

homeowner liability

excess liability

businessowner physical damage

businessowner liability

home-based businesses

life insurance needs

health insurance needs

disability insurance needs

Any one of the exposures listed above can effect any of the others. They are intricately woven together in each of our lives.

Any agent doing business in the modern world should do an insurance analysis of any prospect’s present insurance and his future insurance requirements. To fail to do so is an invitation for a lawsuit.

What does this mean to you?

First: If your agent makes promises to you about coverage, and your claim gets denied, you can make a claim against the agent’s Errors and Omissions Liability policy. You may have to get an attorney involved, but that only increases the chance that your denied claim will get paid.

Next: In my never-to-be-humble opinion, ALL agents selling ANY kind of insurance should perform a Insurance Needs Analysis for the prospect PRIOR to selling the policy. In addition, I believe that an agent should carefully explain the findings of the Insurance Needs Analysis to the prospect PRIOR to selling the policy. Once the explanation is complete, the agent should require the prospect to sign off on the policies that are sold, and sign off on the policies and coverages that are not sold. “Signing off” simply means that the prospect states that the agent has explained all coverages, and he either accepts or rejects any given coverage.

Both parties..the agent and the policyholder…benefit in this transaction. The policyholder has a complete explanation of the policy he’s buying and its relationship to all his other insurance. The agent sells the right coverage, and significantly lowers the risk of a lawsuit or claim against his E&O coverage for selling the wrong coverage.

Here’s what an insurance analysis procedure should look like.

1. Personal Information Collection: get as much information about the insured and his family members as possible.

2. Get Copies of Existing Policies: the agent should actually read the existing policies.

3. Analyze Insurance Needs: determine the correct coverages needed and the correct policy limits.

4. Recommendations: what should be purchased and prices.

5. Application and Sign-off Analysis: fill out the application and have the insured sign off on the analysis form.

6. Deliver the Policy: An agent should deliver the policy in person and explain it again, not just send you a copy in the mail.

Even after all of the training and education that any insurance agent acquires, the agent is still not an expert in how to handle an insurance claim. I’ve had lots of people tell me that they were going to get their agent to help them with their claim. Later, they figured out that the agent didn’t know much more about the claims process than they did. As I wrote earlier, agents can become experts, but their expertise is customarily in the sales and needs analysis areas of insurance…not claims. For most agents, learning the claims process would be a waste of their time, since most agents are not licensed to handle claims.

Sure…some agents will be given a small claims settlement authority by the company they work for. Some agents will be able to settle claims up to about $5,000.00, and then only in the property side of the claim…such as a small water loss or a theft. But, for the most part, the insurance company concentrates claims handling with the claims employees and independent claims adjusters.

The most important strategies you should take from this article are:

1. Interview EVERY insurance agent to find out their level of expertise. Only do business with the most qualified, educated and experienced agents. Let the inexperienced agents practice on people who don’t care about protecting themselves the right ways.

2. Don’t always chase after the lowest premium. You get what you pay for. You’d be better served to pay a higher premium if a highly qualified agent takes care of you. You don’t drive the cheapest car you can find, do you?

3. Never be hesitant to call the Department of Insurance of your state if you have problems with your agent. Agents are regulated for a reason.

If you’ve had bad experiences with insurance agents, how about telling us about it?

Finding Employees For Insurance Industry Jobs

Finding the right employee for any job opening can be a challenge to say the least, and this is no truer than in the insurance industry. With considerations ranging from experience and education to their personal skills, the decisions faced by recruiters and employers can be of critical importance.

When hiring employees for insurance industry jobs it is important to take many factors into account. Summarized, these factors include:

1. Education & Certification

2. Experience

3. Personal Skills

Education & Certification

Obviously one of the first criteria you will be looking for in a candidate will be their education. Whether the employee is applying for a one of your insurance sales jobs, customer service, risk management or some other position you will want to make sure that their education matches the criteria of the job. With this in mind an employer will often find him/herself in a position when multiple candidates are well educated and/or certified. While it may take additional time, looking into the schools themselves may yield significant differences.

A certificate from the “University of Phoenix Online” is worth significantly less than the same certificate from an accredited educational institution but unless you look into the credentials you may be tempted to consider them all equal.

While education cannot be considered the end-all-be-all of hiring any qualified candidate, a solid education from an accredited institution reflects more than a knowledge of the industry – it also reflects the job applicant’s ability to write and present ideas clearly and also to stick with something they have started.

And isn’t that a key feature in a candidate, whether the education is necessary in their job function or not?

Experience

This is perhaps the most important factor in filling jobs in the insurance industry (or any industry for that matter). What you should be reading into their experience is not simply the number of years they have worked in the same or similar roles however. While experience in a specific field lends itself to a strong understanding of the ins-and-outs of it can also have its downside that must be taken into account.

The value of experience in the insurance industry comes primarily from the reduced training that will be necessary to get the employee functioning. Knowing how to perform a specific function, especially a complex function such as risk management or loss control, can save a company countless dollars in training.

The downside in experience that must be considered is that an employee may not fully understand the processes and procedures unique to your insurance company. No two companies perform all their tasks the same way and an employee who has performed a specific role for one company may assume (incorrectly) that you do or should do it the same way. This can lead to bottlenecks and sometimes even conflict.

An additional drawback to experience that must be addressed when filling insurance jobs is the knowledge that the prospective employee has worked in insurance industry jobs and has chosen to leave an employer. The last thing you want is to fill one of your vacant jobs with an employee who has a history of leaving related positions.

Both of these drawbacks can be addressed with a few simple questions of the employee and to past employers.

Personal Skills

Personal skills are arguably one of the most important criteria when filling insurance industry jobs. While the importance of personal skill is obvious when hiring for insurance agent jobs, these skills are equally important when considering employees for administration and more technical positions as well. While these people may not necessary be dealing with the public on a regular basis they will play a key roll in developing a productive work environment.

Although the primary objective in any businesses is to insure profitability, developing an enjoyable work environment in which the various parties can communicate leads to new ideas, higher productivity due to a willingness of all employees to work together, and perhaps most importantly – a lower employee turnover rate.

For some insurance jobs, personal skills are more important than others however for every position they should be considered. You may even want to consider having the current staff who will be working closely with the new employee meet during the interview process and provide feedback. If your staff work well together their productivity will naturally increase.

Conclusion

While every company and position within that company is different, as long as the above three areas are considered when hiring for any of the various insurance industry jobs available, you as the employer are far more likely to foster a positive, productive and in the end, more profitable company. You will end up with a staff that is properly educated, has good experience if applicable, and works well together. Like any well-oiled machine – this is the recipe for success when filling insurance related jobs.

The Need for California Insurance Continuing Education Requirements

The insurance and financial industries are very regulated industries. The professionals working in these industries are dealing with people’s money and assets on a day to day basis. Insurance agents play a large part of this industry. Agents have many rules and regulations they must abide by when selling policies to their clients. Their clients trust the agent with their family’s future well being. This alone is a large part of why there are so many laws and regulations one must follow. Ethics is a key component. The agent must always try to do what’s best for their client. They must sell them the right policies that will be most beneficial for them.

Because many agents have been licensed for many years they must complete certain CE requirements. Continuing education will allow the producer to stay current with industry trends, new laws, and new products available to their clients. If an agent has had their license for 30 years and didn’t keep up with all of these they would be selling their clients outdated products and possibly breaking the law.

Every state has different requirements when it comes to insurance continuing education. For example the state of California requires all new agents to complete at least 25 hours of continuing education each of their first four years of selling insurance. But, after the four year mark they only have to complete 30 hours of insurance CE every two years. They want to make sure the newly licensed insurance agents keep up to date with the California insurance continuing education requirements.

California however does allow open book exams. Some states require a monitor or even some courses to be completed in a classroom. This is good news for insurance agents in CA. They are able to read through the book then look up the answers to the questions on the exam once they are done.

California also has a long-term care requirement. Any agent selling long-term care must complete at least eight hours of long-term care continuing education every two years. This helps them stay up to speed on any new rules and regulations created the prior year.

The renewal period is a little different in California. Agents must complete their required CE hours by the last day of the license issuance month every two years. So in this case, it has nothing to do with their birthday. If you need help looking up your hours or have questions on what courses to take please contact an approved provider as they will be happy to assist you.