The life and health insurance exam is required to become a licensed life and health insurance agent. These professionals sell, negotiate and write protection policies for life and health insurance. Licensed insurance agents may work independently, as a broker, or as a captive agent for an insurance company. There is no national examination; the state's board of insurance regulates licensure in each state. Check with your state boards, as although the exams may be similar, the prerequisites and exam blueprints will vary.
There are many paths towards a career in life and health insurance - college versus tenure at a firm versus trade schools. Regardless of which path you take, you will still have to pass the life and health insurance exam before selling, negotiating or writing any insurance policies within this specialty. The exam is controlled at the state level and the information for each state insurance board may be found on the state's web site. Each state may present the exam information in different divisions of their site, and you may have to look for the links. For instance, the Florida health and life insurance examination information is found within the Department of Financial Services, whereas North Carolina's exam is found under the Department of Insurance.
Although all state boards require a background check including a finger print screen prior to getting your license, many have additional pre-testing and licensing requirements. California and North Carolina, for instance, require prelicensing education hours with specific classes and hours to be obtained. Insurance laws vary by state, therefore candidates must have an understanding of the laws applicable to where they will apply and practice. Some states will waive part of the prelicensure education if you are only applying for the health, life and the life and health examination and license, however this is not common practice.
Many states offer life and health insurance exams as separate entities. You may need to apply for and sit for two examinations if you wish to work in both types of insurance. The life and health tests usually contain multiple sections including those that focus on basic insurance, the intricacies of health and life insurance and state specific insurance laws and codes. Some of your prelicensing education may be helpful with the specific state information - many of the state's prelicensing educational courses focus on their laws and insurance regulations.
The majority of the states have adopted computerized testing for their insurance licensure exams, which are administered at computer testing facilities, such as Prometric or Pearson VUE, in major cities across the state. After completing your prelicensing education and/or testing as needed, you will apply to sit for the examination. Once approval is obtained, you will receive notification that you may schedule your examination. Most states offer online scheduling through the subsidy company that provides the actual test. Thoroughly read through the testing candidate handbook for your state, and become familiar with the rules and regulations of your testing center. You will need several forms of ID, an admission voucher or ticket for the test, and will usually be asked to leave personal belongings, including cell phones, in a locker for the duration of the test. Special accommodations can be made at the testing centers, should you have a documented disability or medical history requiring attention during the exam.
Life and Health Exam Content
The life and health insurance exam is tailored to the needs of each state offering the test. However, the majority will cover basic insurance, containing separate portions on life and health, which may be similar from state to state. Review exam content before you start studying for the exam - this can save you time and frustration as you narrow down your fields of focus. Also, be sure to check with your state boards regulating the insurance exam, to look for their specific test blueprint.
Most state insurance exams are offered in a computerized test format. This test will be offered at a computer testing facility, with a specific amount of time allotted for test completion. This timing will vary by state and the amount of content. Also, there are some states that do not offer a life and health insurance exam combined; for these states you may have to take separate exams to gain licensure in each area. The life and health exam may include a section or questions on basic insurance regulation including governing state laws and statutes as well as regulation of insurance agencies at the state level.
One large focus area on your life insurance exam might include the overall regulation and purpose of life insurance policies. This section may test your knowledge on the various types of policies, such as term versus whole life, and the variations of each policy: single, level, flexible. Tests may include questions on family income and maintenance of the policy, last and juvenile survivor benefits, combination policies and riders as well as non-traditional life insurance policies like the special interest or high risk policies.
The life exam may have a section covering annuities and policy provisions. The annuities section covers your understanding of survivorship, benefits and disbursement of the policy. This beneficiary section may include fixed and variable disbursement as well as guarantee of benefits within policies. The policy provisions will cover special options you may write within policies including the clauses and laws that govern the insurance contract document. These provisions will cover the rights of the policy holder and special options for children, spouses, war and aviation clauses.
Another section of many life insurance exams tests your knowledge of taxation on policies and disbursement, and understanding retirement plans and social security benefits. This section may cover IRA or TSA accounts, group life insurance options and the laws that regulate social security disbursement.
The health portion of your life and health insurance exam will test your knowledge on the types, purpose, benefits and costs associated with health insurance. You will need to understand the myriad forms of health coverage, from individual plans to managed care. These sections may test on anything from the financial topics, uses and of health insurance to specific disease coverage.
The section including types of health insurance will cover government programs, fee-for-service programs and managed care options. Knowledge of government programs must include Medicare and Medicaid plans including eligibility, coverage and worker's compensation and social security disability programs. You must understand the different types of Medicare available, such as Part A or Part B, prescription coverage and special supplements that can be purchased individually for the elderly for more comprehensive coverage.
Managed care organizations, their plans and the fees associated will appear at some point in your health test. Managed care groups include the health maintenance organization (HMO), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and the Independent Practice Association (IPA) just to name a few. You will be tested on your knowledge of specific policy coverage, riders, exclusions and deductibles as well as co-payments and premiums.
A large section in health insurance involves disability coverage. The accidental death and dismemberment, non-occupational and long-term care options fall under these disability policies. Topics covered may include the renewability and duration of these policies as well as the presence of pre-existing conditions.
Life and Health Exam Eligibility
The life and health insurance exam is offered by each state for the purpose of licensing and regulating the practice of insurance professionals within the state. Every broker or agent has passed this exam before practicing within the field, or they are practicing outside the law. There is no national exam for insurance, but many states offer services for licensure reciprocity should you move and wish to practice in a different state from where you obtained your initial license. The eligibility requirements vary from state to state - check with your state board's department of insurance regulation to learn the specifics within your jurisdiction.
Many states have a list of prelicensing education hours that must be completed prior to applying for the life and health exam. Contact your state board of insurance to obtain a list of these required credit hours. The classes and content will vary dependent on the type of license you are applying for; health insurance requirements may be different than those for life insurance. The classes can only be taken through an accredited state school; the state insurance department web site or representative can provide a list of accepted schools. Any coursework taken outside of these schools will not count towards your prelicensing education hours, if needed. If you hold a health and life insurance license in another state you may be eligible to take the
exam without any prelicensing education.
General education requirements, such as undergraduate or graduate work in insurance, are not regulated in this profession. A growing number of universities do offer coursework in insurance, with some offering a bachelor's in insurance. You may also consider advanced education in finance, business, law and marketing, although you do not have to complete this coursework for exam eligibility in any state. However, holding advanced degrees may impact your pay scale, position eligibility and career advancement in the future.
You do not need hours of experience within the insurance industry for exam eligibility. There are many paths to starting a career in health and life insurance. However, all of these paths end with passing the insurance examination before you are eligible to practice in your state. This licensure agreement regulates the knowledge and expertise of each individual practicing insurance sales within the state, maintaining a uniformed standard for professionalism within the field and safety for consumers. Whether you have just been promoted from insurance telemarketing to sales, or graduated from university with a business degree, you may be eligible for the health and life insurance exam upon completing your prelicensing requirements.
Fingerprints and a thorough background check are completed on every insurance licensure candidate. Fingerprinting services are offered through local law enforcement. Call the police department to learn the schedule, materials and pricing of this service. The process is varied by state governance; you may get your fingerprints and background check completed while waiting to take the exam in California, whereas North Carolina mandates candidates get fingerprinted after passing the examination but before the licensure is awarded. Check with your state board of insurance to learn the rules and regulations within your area of jurisdiction.
Life and Health Insurance Sales Professions
You will need to do a little state board research before getting started in the diverse profession of insurance sales. Insurance agents are licensed professionals who sell, negotiate or write protection policies for anything from property to health insurance. Dependent on the state, you may need to pass different examinations for both life and health insurance sales, however most states offer a combined examination. This license does not carry into other insurance sales categories; a property insurance agent cannot sell life insurance in any state without passing the appropriate examination. Similarly, your state license only covers your profession within that state, although some states offer reduced license application fees or waive pre-licensing requirements in lieu of reciprocity.
Although there are many different types of insurance specialties within each category, there are only two types of agents: brokers and captive agents. If you wish to work for the client, you may choose to work independently as an insurance sales broker. These agents work with multiple companies and help their clients find the plans that match their financial and coverage needs. They are usually paid by a rate of commission - the more policies they sell the more money they bring home. Captive agents work specifically for one company and sell only the plans offered by that company, such as an insurance carrier. These agents may work on salary, commission or a combination of the two. According to the United States Department of Labor Statistics, the average insurance sales professional makes about $45,430 a year, with those working directly for insurance carriers bringing home the higher pay rates.
Since they cover many different aspects, life and health insurance policies are not usually bundled together. In its' most basic form, a type of life insurance is purchased to protect the beneficiaries of the policyholder upon their death. These policies will pay out a preset amount of cash to designated beneficiaries and are most commonly used to financially protect loved ones in the event of an unexpected event. Life insurance premiums are usually scaled dependent upon the policyholder's age, health and medical history, although there are more expensive policies that provide an allotment without consideration to these factors. The types of policies that brokers may specialize in include term, whole, universal, business, special and special risk life insurance policies.
Health insurance policies cover either the policyholder or a family, with myriad coverage, co-pay and group options. There are many different types of health insurance plans to choose from - a health insurance sales representative helps each individual client find a plan that meets their fiscal and medical needs. Many people obtain group life insurance through their employer. However, entrepreneurs and those who work independently may need the assistance of an insurance sales professional to wade through the health plans and options available. The major types of health insurance plans include fee-for-service, such as basic or major medical coverage, health maintenance organization (HMO), point of service plans (POSP) and preferred provider plans (PPP).
There is no hard and fast rule that governs a career in insurance sales, other than the fact that you will need a state licensure. Each state's requirements vary, with alterations in education level, experience and coursework in insurance. The agent selling health and life policies must be adept at explaining each intricacy, therefore excellent communication, research and computer skills are a bonus in this profession. Some colleges offer associate's and bachelor's degrees in insurance, however this is not always needed to get into the profession.
Preparing for the Life and Health Insurance Exam
Taking and passing the life and health insurance exam will license you to sell and negotiate with these types of insurance within your state. The tests are governed at the state level; check with your state board of insurance or department of finance for specific test eligibility, content and application procedures. This test is costly and may not be offered year-round depending on the state -- preparing for the test will save you time and money, as well as help to get your career started.
There is no singularly acceptable version of the life and health insurance exam. There are multiple different tests offered within each state department, which keeps the test content secure and relative to the profession. Check your state board's division of insurance regulation to find the candidate handbook and exam blueprint. Study the blueprint, as well as the proffered references used in creating the exam. Most states also provide a list of laws and statutes that you should become comfortable with prior to sitting for the exam, as they will be included in your test content.
You may find the test content overwhelming at a first glance. Both sections on health and life have myriad subcategories including the basics, policy types and beneficiary information. After reviewing the test content and references, you may want to take a pretest or practice exam to find your areas of weakness. This way you will be able to focus your study time on the areas that you need help, as opposed to wasting time studying topics with which you are comfortable. Practice exams, questions and pretests may be found online through your state board or embedded within purchased study materials. Many study books, CD-ROMs and flashcard series offer practice test material for the health and life exam, which is included in your purchase price.
Aside from specific pre-licensing education requirements, most states do not regulate the amount, degree or type of educational level needed to sit for the health and life exam. Therefore, both high school graduates and those holding a bachelor's degree in finance could sit for the exam. If you lack formal education in insurance, you might consider taking a few college level courses in preparation for your career, which could also benefit your expertise on the exam. Many community colleges offer general courses in insurance, law, marketing, accounting, finance and business.
Upon delineating your areas of focus with a pretest or by reviewing the outline, you may consider purchasing or borrowing study aides for the examination. If you have limited financial options, you could go to the local library and check out or order the listed reference materials used to make the state's exam. A list of these references is available with the exam content information. There are study guides including review textbooks, CD-ROMs and flashcards that you can purchase for health and life insurance exams. Select a study method that works best for you.
Using Time Wisely
Do not wait to develop a study plan leading to your examination day. It might be helpful to arrange a timeline, including studying time, pretests and a time allowance for reviewing any materials where you did poorly on pretesting. Include time to study the state code and statute information.