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Insurance Continuing Education Credits and the Insurance Industry

Comments Off on Insurance Continuing Education Credits and the Insurance Industry 02 July 2011

Life insurance agents wear many hats in today’s economy. They sell policies that pay beneficiaries when policyholders pass away. They can also have a wide array of other skills. These may include retirement planning, estate planning, or pension plan set-up. Life insurance continuing education credits are required in all states for license renewal. They are key to adding to and maintaining agent skill sets.

There has been resurgence in this field since the 2008’s economic slowdown. Before 2008, many companies were not actively recruiting new agents. They depended instead upon the internet, banks, financial advisers, and stockbrokers for sales. These painted whole life policies as inferior products. Clients were advised to purchase a cheap term policy and invest their savings in the stock market. The tables turned, however, when the stock market plunged. The inferior whole life policies retained value while other investments tanked.

Based on the stability of the product, there is now a large demand for agents. Companies are recruiting former lawyers, bankers, mortgage brokers, and real estate agents. The industry is grueling in the early years. Few agents earn more than $35,000 in their second years. After four years, only twenty percent stay in the field. Agents who stick it out into the fifth year, however, may find themselves making $100,000 or more.

Continuing education courses cover a wide variety of topics. Firm element and regulatory classes include FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) rules and regulations. They also include ethics, suitability, and money laundering prevention, securities, and the economy. Additional courses may include accelerated benefits, distribution planning, and annuities. Additional courses may include health and benefits insurance, health savings accounts, and Medicare and Medicaid.

Continuing education requirements vary from state to state. Most require license renewal every two years. The number of continuing education hours can be as few as eighteen and as many as thirty. Requirements are decided by state departments of insurance. Some states require specific courses. For instance, nearly twenty states require ethics and consumer protection courses.

There is not a lot of information out there about choosing a CE provider. As a result, agents must do their own due diligence. Referrals from colleagues or from a firm can weed out undesirables. Any CE provider should have a strong background and a strong reputation. Providers should offer online, textbook, and live classroom courses. Courses should be state-approved and also approved nationwide. While some firms will reimburse their employees for CE, others will not.

Firms should take some crucial steps before enlisting a CE provider for their agents. They should make sure that the provider offers a variety of courses. These courses should cover all of a firm’s offered services. Courses could include CLU, ChFC, CPA, CIMA, and CFP credits. Large firms should hire a compliance specialist. Smaller firms can use a government-employed local compliance officer. A specialist should have Series 7, 24, and 63 licenses.

Life insurance continuing education is required by all states. Specific requirements may vary. It is important to research any CE provider before making a commitment. As the industry grows, firms and agents have to make licensure compliance a priority.

Insurance Continuing Education Virginia

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