One of the most nerve-wracking times for new insurance professionals involves taking that first licensing exam. Certainly, there’s a lot of complex information to learn and remember. But the effort put into preparing now forms the foundation for future success.
So, here are a few tips to make the process less intimidating.
Study, Study, Study!
Passing the insurance licensing exam isn’t as easy as some people think. Therefore, many states have a pre-licensing education requirement. Pre-licensing education is what is sounds like – educational courses taken to prepare to become licensed in a state. Of course, each state has different requirements, which may vary depending on the license class and lines of authority applied for.
The insurance department in your resident state lists any pre-licensing requirements and provides contact information for approved course providers. So look for the site’s FAQ to find this information.
If a state has a pre-licensing requirement, a prospective licensee must submit proof that he/she completed the coursework. However, certain individuals may be exempt from pre-licensing requirements. Generally, states grant exemptions based on:
- Documented work experience in the insurance industry
- Holding certain professional designations or academic degrees related to the insurance or financial services industries
- Having held an active license for equivalent lines of authority in a different resident state within the preceding 12 months
Again, the exact exemption criteria vary from state to state.
Usually, pre-licensing and examination requirements apply only in the licensee’s resident state. Reciprocity among the states means that a non-resident state’s insurance department recognizes the value of the training already completed in the licensee’s resident state. Things can get a little more complicated with certain specialty license classes … but that’s a topic for another article!
By the way, even if it isn’t a state requirement, studying for the licensing exam is a good idea. Fortunately, most states offer exam content outlines and other study materials. Some also provide practice exams.
Schedule the Exam
After completing any required pre-licensing courses, most states require prospective licensees to take an insurance licensing exam. States often contract with third-party companies to administer their examinations. Go to the state’s insurance department website and search for “license exam,” to find the testing schedule.
Remember that if you need multiple lines of authority, you’ll likely need to take a separate exam for each LOA. Most states also have an FAQ that explains fees, how long it takes to get scores, etc.
Candidates who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or for whom English is a second language (ESL), can request accommodations. This needs to be done at registration, however – not on test day.
Check for Additional Licensing Requirements
Some states also have additional requirements for resident licensees. The most common is a fingerprint requirement. Nowadays, most states take fingerprints electronically, either at the time of the licensing exam or at a scheduled appointment. It’s still possible, though, that you’ll need to get prints taken at a local law enforcement office.
On Exam Day
On exam day, be sure to arrive early – at least 30 minutes before the exam starts. You’ll usually need to provide two forms of current photo ID, for example, a driver’s license, military ID card, passport, resident alien ID card, etc. Many states also require a secondary form of ID. Remember, the name on the ID must match the name listed on the exam registration form.
Candidates who don’t turn up on time or show up without ID normally forfeit their exam fee and have to re-schedule.
However, if you can’t make the licensing exam for some other reason, most states allow you to reschedule without a penalty until a few days before the exam. Check the state’s or exam vendor’s website for further details.
If You Don’t Pass the First Time
Ideally, all this preparation pays off with a passing score. However, if things don’t go as planned, don’t give up. Most states allow prospective licensees to re-take the licensing exam. Keep in mind, however, that some states may require applicants to wait a certain period before retaking the exam – to encourage more study, study, study.
Hopefully, these tips help … and best of luck!