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Sep 3, 2020

EP 55 I PASSED MY EXAM NOW WHAT? Life and Health

This is the second part of our series on career opportunities in the insurance industry.  The focus is on the opportunities available to you as a life and health insurance agent.

If you passed your property and casualty exam, be sure to listen to episode 54 where I talk about some of your options with that license.

Life and health are completely different industries inside of the insurance world and both offer several options.

So many people think insurance is all about sales. While it is definitely a component of the industry, there are a lot of other areas where you can work and not do sales. T

For example, there’s underwriting, accounting, claims, and I’ve heard one of the departments that makes a lot of money is the actuaries. So if you are a numbers person, it’s something to consider!


  • DIRECT - Mass Mutual, Northwestern, Prudential - I’m sure there are others but these are some of the bigger names that people recognize
    • Northwestern has a great internship program - Sean, Bob Quinn, Josh
    • The positions I mentioned above from being an underwriter or doing claims would also be available with these types of companies.
  • CARRIER - Another area on the carrier side is selling products to other agents. A very good friend of mine worked for Hartford for many years. He started just out of college.  His role was to work with independent property and casualty agents and help them help their clients. Ironically, when he first started with Hartford, my dad was his first agent client. It’s how we met. He went on to be one of the national leaders with Hartford before retiring. My friend has now started his own off shore insurance company and I hope to bring him on as a guest at some point because I’m really not clear what he’s doing today, but know he’s doing well!  SIDEBAR -except it just goes to show you that the opportunities are unlimited.
  • INDEPENDENT - like the property and casualty agent, you can also be an independent life insurance agency, where you focus on selling life insurance products or some of the other products that I’m going to discuss in a minute. As a solo, you can go to an MGA or other broker that will help you get contracts without production requirements. 
    • Think about approaching a small P/C agency and working with them with life and health. Many P/C people run from Life/health so this could be a win win for both of you!
  • ANCILLARY - Other products that we often think of life insurance professionals selling are term insurance, whole life, final expense. long term care, and a hybrid life/LTC. LTC isn’t really a life product, but the hybrid version today is very exciting in my opinion and worth exploring as an agent. 

There’s a lot of cool things you can do with life insurance. I’ll be honest, I’ve always been a basic life insurance agent, not selling anything too sophisticated, but there is a lot that can be done in this arena. 

Once I brought my friend from the Hartford on an appointment to see one of my government contractors. He was talking about some sophisticated life insurance planning techniques to help the two business owners. They were talking on the same page although I must admit, I was a little lost in the conversation.

There is so much that can be done with life insurance, it’s not just a straight term or whole life sale.  The more assets someone has, the more fun putting together life insurance policies can be because there’s more to work with!


  • GROUP - independent agent, work for a company like Kaiser
    • Generally group health is for businesses. Similar to the last podcast episode when I talked about business insurance. Obviously, if you have a group, it’s a group of employees that work for the company. 
    • 2-50
    • 50 and above
  • INDIVIDUAL - this can be a tricky business, but there is a career here. The ACA is different in many states and many states have plans that work around the ACA.
    • Sadly, there is not a lot of commission with the ACA plans and there is also certification, which can scare many people away! The money for you as an agent is earned when you can cross sell products such as dental, life and cancer.
    • During the COVID pandemic, a lot of people are losing their group health insurance, so there is a lot of demand for individual health insurance plans. While they might not be able to afford other insurance products during the pandemic, if you take good care of people, when they do get back to work, they’ll be prospects for other insurance products then!
  • MEDICARE - this is where I am today. I must admit, I love this part of the business, but there’s a lot to it. For one thing, if you want to sell medicare advantage and prescription drug coverage plans  you have to take an annual test called AHIP and you have to re-certify with each insurance company each year to sell and get renewal commissions. With many of the tests, you only get 3 tries and you have to get a 90% or better each time. Honestly, that can be nerve wracking and stressful. And the commissions aren't huge. But there’s a demand for the products and you won’t find someone on every street corner selling medicare like you might with car or life insurance.
    • Most seniors need some sort of dental, vision and hearing plans as well as cancer insurance. When you can sell these products, your commission increases significantly and that’s where the business can be attractive.
    • Medicare is highly regulated with a lot of rules and regulations. For some people, that can be a deal breaker for a career. The opportunity to help people is something I really enjoy so it’s why I love the industry so much.
  • There’s also what we call ancillary products - these would be things like cancer insurance, dental and vision and hospital indemnity policies. Depending on the state and situation, there are many options for these. You probably wouldn’t want to just sell one of them but when packaging them with a life policy or health policy, you are really helping your clients and making some money at the same time. 

There are career opportunities for each of the type of products mentioned, You can find positions on both the agency and carrier side.

  • You’ll need someone to design the products, market them whether you are marketing directly to the consumer or marketing to other agents.
  • Underwriting
  • Claims
  • Customer Service
  • Technology

How do you know who to work for?

Finding the right fit isn't always easy! Most organizations are ethical and work above board, but there are some bad companies out there. Some are known as multi level marketing type companies. They’ve been around awhile and I don’t think it’s a good option, but ...I”m just going to leave it there. Do your research, talk to other agents outside of the company and get their input before putting your heart and soul into them.

One of the most important things you can do as an agent is to look at the financial ratings of the companies you represent or work for. If they are struggling financially, do you really want to sell their life insurance policy? What if they aren’t around in 10 years to pay claims on the people you were trying to protect.

If an insurance carrier has financial difficulty and can't pay claims, the State Insurance Departments are the back up system. As an agent, it’s not something your clients should have to deal with.

This is where integrity is important and you don’t sell insurance just for the commission, you sell the insurance because it is the right thing for your client.

You need to understand what is covered, what isn’t covered, what the rate history has been and you should always look at the financial ratings before presenting a product to a client.  I can’t stress this piece enough.

I said this for the property and casualty side, but if you try something and find you don’t like it, there are so many other options to consider in the insurance industry. Don’t give up on this career path because the first job or the first boss didn’t work out!

Pick one area, learn it and learn it well. Become the expert in the area then move on to something else. 

Remember, there is a lot to insurance. It’s not simple and black and white. So many people really don’t give it a chance and so many people really don’t understand what is involved. 

Most people don’t choose insurance as a career, most people fall into it. I encourage you to make it a choice as a career.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

This episode of The Business of Insurance podcast is brought to you by LynnMichel Insurance. Lynn Michel is an independent insurance agency helping seniors with their medicare benefits from medicare advantage to prescription drug and medicare supplements. If you have someone that needs help and this isn’t your area, please connect with Lynn Michel Insurance. They won’t take your clients from you, their goal is to help you look good!

In the US, October 15 - December 7 is annual enrollment period for those on Medicare. If you know someone that is over 65 and currently receiving Medicare benefits, this is the time for them to review their plans and see if there is a new plan that makes more sense for them.

During this time, medicare recipients are bombarded by mailers and commercials, so please encourage them to talk to a professional and review their options. If the professionals at Lynn Michel can’t help them, well refer them to another professional that can!

If you aren’t focused on the medicare market, let Lynn Michel Insurance be your resource. Check them out at or connect with them on social. 

That wraps it up for this episode. I hope you’ve taken away a few ideas that you can implement. If you like what you’ve heard, please subscribe but more importantly, please tell a friend or a colleague about the podcast. 

Until next time, keep creating opportunities.


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This episode of the Business of Insurance podcast is produced and hosted by Debbie DeChambeau, CIC, AAI, CPIA - an entrepreneurer, business advisor, insurance professional  and content creator. Her goal is to inspire you to think differently and explore ideas that disrupt the status quo. 

Debbie has an extensive business and marketing background with a focus of helping insurance professionals be more successful. 

She is the co-author of Renewable Referrals and produces three other podcasts, Business In Real Life and Divorce Exposed and Seniors We Love. 


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