How to start selling life insurance

Insurance agent meeting with colleagues in office

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life insurance sales agents make an average compensation of more than $50,000 per year. There are several ways to make sure your life insurance career stays for the long term and there are key objectives to stay ahead of the rest of the pack. We recommend taking the following actions in order to succeed as a life insurance agent. 

Insurance agent working with client at desk

Get Your Education

Getting an education is crucial for a career in life insurance sales. A college degree is not always mandatory, but a high school diploma or equivalent is a must for obtaining a license in most states. To become licensed and begin selling life insurance, you’ll need to pass relevant insurance exams.

Insurance Exams

Obtaining a life insurance license requires passing state insurance exams. These exams assess your understanding of state regulations and life insurance policy options and usually comprise multiple-choice questions. You can take them either online or in-person, and some states may have mandatory pre-licensing education.

Continuing Education

Maintaining a life insurance license often requires ongoing education. Keeping up to date with industry developments, regulations, and products is crucial. Many life insurance firms provide training and continuing education opportunities for their agents.

By having a high school diploma or equivalent, passing insurance exams, and continuing your education, you will be well-equipped to sell life insurance and build a successful career in the industry.

Insurance agents meeting at conference table

Choose Your Path

Choosing between working for a life insurance firm or becoming an independent agent is a key decision when starting a career in life insurance sales. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice will depend on individual preferences and career aspirations.

Employed by a Life Insurance Company 

Working for a life insurance company has several advantages. The company will provide you with leads, training, and support. The company will also handle the administrative tasks, such as paperwork and compliance, which can allow you to focus on selling policies. Working for a company may provide you with a steady salary and benefits. 

Independent Agent

As a “captive” or independent agent, you work for yourself and represent multiple insurance companies, providing clients with a wider range of policy choices. The benefits include greater flexibility in scheduling and office location, as well as the chance to develop your own client base and earn commissions from policy sales.

Both career paths have benefits and drawbacks, so it’s crucial to consider them carefully before choosing. There are variations, such as independent agents working under a broker-dealer, who offer support and handle administrative duties while still allowing independent work.

Ultimately, whether to work for a life insurance company or to become an independent agent will depend on your personal preferences and career goals. It is important to research and understand the differences between the two options before deciding.

Insurance agent building her book of business

Build Your Book of Business

Once you’ve chosen your path and have got your life insurance license, it’s time to build your book of business. A “book of business” is a term used to describe the collection of clients and policies that an insurance agent has. Building a powerful book of business is essential for success in the life insurance industry, as it is the source of an agent’s income.

Cold Calling

Cold calling is a tried-and-true method for expanding your client base. It involves contacting potential clients who haven’t shown interest in life insurance. Although it can be difficult and require effort, cold calling offers the opportunity to form new client relationships and gain new business.


An additional effective strategy for expanding your clientele is networking. This might involve going to professional events, becoming a member of local business associations, and networking with other area businesses. You may become known as a skilled and reputable life insurance agent in your community through networking.

Offer a Range of Products

You may expand your clientele by providing a variety of life insurance policies. This covers term life insurance and universal and permanent life insurance. You can offer your customers the best policies by having a lot of knowledge on the various forms of life insurance and their needs.

It takes time, effort, and commitment to build a strong customer base. It could take several months or even years to build up a large clientele. You may succeed as a life insurance agent and build a strong clientele with hard work and by taking the right actions. 

Learn About the Different Types of Life Insurance

Having extensive knowledge of life insurance policies is vital for life insurance agents to provide clients with the best options to suit their needs and grow their client base.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a straightforward and economical form of coverage. It offers protection for a set duration, usually 10, 20, or 30 years. If the insured passes away during the policy’s term, the insurance company pays the death benefit. Clients typically choose this type of insurance for a defined need, like covering a mortgage or a dependent’s childhood.

Permanent Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance, including whole life and universal life, offers lifelong coverage. These policies usually have higher premiums than term life insurance but offer a savings component that grows cash value. Clients often select permanent life insurance to provide lifelong coverage and accumulate cash value.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance is a permanent coverage option with flexible premium and death benefit options within limits, favored by clients who value adaptability and will assume the risk of cash value instability.

It’s important to note that not all clients will require the same type of coverage and it will depend on their needs and budget. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences between the policies and to provide your clients with the best options to meet their needs.

Insurance agent using computer at work to sell insurance

Start Selling Life Insurance

Now that you’ve got your education, chosen your path, and built your book of business, it’s time to sell life insurance. As a life insurance agent, you will identify potential clients, explaining the different life insurance policies available, and helping clients to choose the policy that best suits their needs.

Selling Strategies 

To succeed in the life insurance sector, you will need to develop powerful marketing techniques. This involves determining the needs of your potential customers, knowing their financial status, and clearly communicating the advantages of the different life insurance policies to them.

Work with a Life Insurance Company 

Many life insurance agents choose to work with a life insurance company, as they provide support and resources to help agents build their book of business. This can include training programs, sales support, and marketing materials.

Stay Up to Date with Industry Changes 

Staying informed in the insurance industry is crucial, including taking CE courses, going to industry events, and being aware of changes in laws and regulations that may affect your business.

Continue Your Education

As a life insurance agent, it’s essential to continue your education throughout your career. This will help you stay up to date with the latest trends and regulations in the insurance industry, and to provide your clients with the best service.

Continuing Education

Many states require life insurance agents to complete continuing education (CE) courses to maintain their license. The number of CE hours required, and the types of courses that qualify, vary by state. It is important to check with your state’s insurance department for specific requirements.

Stay Informed 

Staying informed of law and regulation changes affecting business is vital. This can encompass updates to tax laws, insurance offerings, and consumer protection rules.


Keeping informed in the insurance industry can be achieved by taking courses, attending events, and being aware of changes in regulations. Networking with peers through attending events, joining associations, and taking part in online forums also helps to stay updated with industry trends.

By continuing your education and staying informed, you can ensure that you are providing your clients with the best service and that you are staying compliant with all laws and regulations. This will help to build trust with your clients, and ultimately help you grow your business and become a successful life insurance agent.


To sell life insurance, you need to first get the licenses and certifications required to sell life insurance. Building a network of potential clients and educating them on the benefits and importance of life insurance. 

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By Alex Vetter

Alex Vetter is the product marketing manager at DYL. With a Masters from College de Paris, he runs the marketing department and helps with product management at DYL.