Insurance continuing education is a necessary requirement in almost any insurance environment, from Casualty and Life to Personal Lines and Accident and Health. Each state’s Department of Insurance determines how much continuing education is applicable and provides venues for acquiring the necessary additional training. Since laws, rules and regulations are constantly shifting, it is critical for agents to keep up-to-speed with new developments to more competently serve their clientele.
The insurance environment is a constantly shifting environment that presents sets of complex regulations that must be adhered to in order to stay within legal limits. The only way for agents to remain up to date on new insurance products, laws and issues is to receive yearly instruction in the form of continuing education.
Who is Required to Participate in Continuing Education?
Generally, Property Broker-Agents and/or Casualty Broker-Agents, Personal Lines Broker-Agents, Life-Only and/or Accident and Health licensees must take a certain number of continuing education classes each year to maintain their licenses, whether or not they are actively selling insurance. The more lines of insurance you carry, the more education you must receive to keep your license. If you offer subcategories such as Credit Property, Travel Ticket or Involuntary Unemployment you can rest easy — these lines generally do not require yearly education. However, some subcategories such as Long Term Care and Annuities do require some additional education, although usually not as much as the major categories. You must check with your state’s Department of Insurance to determine your particular licensure requirements.
How Do I Fulfill My Requirements?
Courses are offered in two formats: a sit-down, classroom environment and online. Some agents prefer a classroom environment because it focuses their attention and allows them personal access to teachers and other students. It is a great way to network with other agents. However, online classes can be attractive due to the convenience of being able to take them at your leisure and without having to commute to a class. Classes like these are often offered by professional development companies as well as colleges and universities.
Which Class Style is Better for Me?
If you are a hands-on individual, taking classes at a local college or university or a remote location might be the best way for you to learn. You will have the opportunity to “pick” the instructor’s brain for tips and hints and also learn from your fellow students. Taking a “classroom style” class can also expose you to a new environment if you have to travel to take the class, and therefore new people with different ideas. It is a way to make new contacts to grow your business and share helpful information with other agents that are facing the same struggles and concerns.
However, if you like the convenience of studying on your own schedule, then online classes offer a great benefit. Some agents don’t want to take up valuable time listening to others ask questions or give feedback, and wish to work at their own pace. Online learning also lets you schedule your education around your business day, so that you have less downtime. This is particularly important to some agents who like to focus on customer service.
Whichever style you choose, continuing education is an industry standard for insurance professionals, and will serve to enhance your knowledge, ability and skills so that you can be a more competent, effective insurance agent.