Becoming an insurance professional requires mastering a tremendous amount of very complex information. Regulators use licensing exams to assess whether applicants have this knowledge. To improve their chances of passing these exams, many states also require applicants to complete pre-licensing education courses.
Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia have no formal pre-licensing education requirement for producers; although you may still find exam prep courses available online. (Note that, unlike pre-licensing education courses, these programs are not regulated by the state insurance department; so choose your provider carefully.)
In the remaining 25 states, individuals seeking a producer license for one or more of the major lines of authority only need to meet the pre-licensing requirements for their resident state. Reciprocity among the states means that insurance departments in other jurisdictions recognize the value of the training already completed to secure a resident license.
Pre-Licensing Education Requirements
Providers tailor their course content to specific lines of authority; although some “general” courses may be approved for more than one LOA. The vast majority of states require 20 hours of pre-licensing education EACH for Life, Health, Property, Casualty, and Personal Lines. Some states offer “combined lines” courses, but the totals are usually the same. For example, California’s Department of Insurance requires 20 hours each for Property or Casualty or 40 hours for Property and Casualty. Requirements can be greater, however. Florida, for instance, requires 60 hours for L&H or P&C applicants, while New York demands a whopping 90 hours of training for P&C licensees. Pre-licensing requirements for other license types and lines of authority vary greatly from state to state.
Most states also require a certain number of hours to focus on their state laws and regulations governing the insurance industry. An increasing number of jurisdictions also mandate ethics education. The exact number of hours varies from 3 to 12, depending on the state. Additionally, these hours may be part of or in addition to the LOA-oriented courses.
Finding the Right Pre-Licensing Education Provider
Students must take courses from education providers approved by state regulators. Most states provide a roster of courses and providers on their websites. To find these lists, visit the appropriate department of insurance website and use their search to look up “pre-licensing education” Many sites also have a shortcut to this information on their homepages.
It’s important to remember that providers must regularly renew their course certifications. If it’s been a while since you looked up an education provider, double-check their status before enrolling. Certificates of completion are also frequently time-sensitive. Graduates may need to apply for their license within as little as 90 days (in North Carolina) up to 4 years (in Florida). In a small number of states, certificates never “expire.” The most common timeframe is one year.
Most states now offer some form of online or “no contact” training. Check with the course provider for details.
Depending on the state, there are ways to be exempted from pre-licensing education requirements. As mentioned previously, all states exempt major lines producers currently licensed for the same line(s) of authority in another jurisdiction. The non-resident applicant simply needs to prove their resident license is active. These days, regulators typically verify this via the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR). If an applicant has any concerns about their resident license status, most states offer an online license lookup on their websites. Licensees can also request a free Producer Database Report (PDB) once every twelve months from the NIPR, or more frequently for a modest fee.
Resolve any issues regarding your resident insurance license — including name and/or address changes — before you apply for a non-resident license.
Other common criteria for full or partial exemption from pre-licensing education requirements include:
- Holding the CLU/CPCU designation
- Previously holding a license for the same line(s) of authority in the same state within a specified time period
- Previously holding a license for the same line(s) of authority in another state within a specified time period
- Holding a college degree in insurance or another degree with a concentration in the appropriate lines
- Previously completing pre-licensing education in the same state within a specified time period
- Having industry experience
This last criterion is especially strict. Only three states credit applicants for prior industry experience. Even then, the exemption is usually either a partial one or restricted to a certain license class and lines(s) of authority.
Embrace Life-Long Learning
While pre-licensing education can help you prepare to pass your licensing exam, it’s important to remember that the insurance industry is constantly evolving. That’s the reason that even states that don’t mandate pre-licensing courses require continuing education for active producers. Don’t look at either type of learning as a just checkbox to be ticked off to stay in compliance. The investment you make in quality life-long learning can be a major differentiator between you and your competitors. Don’t miss an opportunity to improve the quality of service you offer to your clients or to develop the professional skills needed to realize your career goals.
Looking for insights on pre-licensing and continuing education requirements for adjusters? Keep an eye out. It’s coming soon!