Become an Insurance Broker in Illinois
In Illinois, both insurance brokers and agents become certified under a "producer's license." To become a broker in this state, you will have to complete certain educational requirements to qualify for the exam. Once you are ready, you will take the exam at a Pearson VUE testing center. If you pass, you can apply for your license and begin looking for a job. Be aware that you will have to continue licensing requirements even after you have gotten a job as an insurance broker. With some preparation, however, you should be able to begin a new career as an insurance broker.
Earning the Proper Qualifications
- Get a degree in business or finance. Although you technically only need a high school diploma to become an insurance broker, a bachelor's or associate's degree will make you more competitive in the job market. Most brokerage firms are looking for candidates with a bachelor's degree in finance, economics, or business administration. If you want to save time and money, consider an associate's degree in insurance or risk management.
- When choosing a program, you might contact the business or economics department, and ask them if they offer any training programs or internships for aspiring insurance brokers.
- Consult the course catalog of a prospective program. Look to see if they offer classes on risk management, finance, or insurance.
- If you are already in a program, speak to your adviser about how you can take the best courses to prepare you for a career in insurance.
- Choose the type of producer's license you want to gain. This is called a "Line of Authority" and it specifies what type of insurance you will be allowed to sell. You can have multiple lines of authority, but you will have to take separate pre-licensing courses and exams for each. Lines of authority include:
- Motor Vehicle
- Personal lines of property or casualty insurance
- Enroll in your pre-licensing courses. For each line of authority, you need twenty hours of pre-licensing courses. While you can find both online and classroom courses, at least 7.5 hours must take place in a classroom, not online.
You can look up local pre-licensing courses through the Illinois Department of Insurance.
- The motor vehicle line of authority requires 12.5 credit hours, with 5 hours in the classroom.
- Request proof of pre-licensing completion. After you have finished your pre-licensing courses, you will receive a signed certificate. If you do not receive this certificate immediately, ask your program or course director to send it to you. Keep this safe as you will need to present it before your producer’s exam.
- If you are currently licensed in a different state or if your license in a previous state was canceled within 90 days, you will not have to take the pre-licensing course or the examination. Instead, you will provide proof of your certification and good standing in the other state when applying to the National Insurance Producer Registry. To do that, you should request a letter of clearance from that state.
Applying for Your License
- Read the Illinois Insurance Licensing Candidate Exam Handbook. This PDF contains a breakdown of the examination and the application process. It provides helpful material to study for the exam itself as well as an overview of all required fees, documents, and procedures. In it, you can find:
- Illinois licensing requirements
- Exam reservations and procedures
- Exam information regarding each line of authority
- Information on scores, test centers, and extra forms.
- Schedule your examination. You will take your exam through Pearson VUE test centers. You can find a test center or schedule the exam by visiting their website or by calling them at 1-800-274-0402.
You can schedule your test up to one day before the test itself, provided there are seats left in the testing center. It costs approximately $102 to take the test. There are seven exams that you can take based on which line of authority you are specializing in. These are:
- Casualty Producer
- Accident and Health Producer
- Life Producer
- Motor Vehicle
- Personal Lines
- Property Producer
- Public Adjuster
- Arrive at the test center. You should come thirty minutes early to your examination. You will be required to sign the "Candidate Rules Agreement" before you can take the test. The exam itself will be taken on a computer. You will need to bring with you:
- Photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport, or military ID
- A second ID card, such as another form of photo ID, a social security card, or a debit/credit card.
- Your signed Pre-License Course Certificate
- Failing score report (if you are retaking the examination)
- You will not be allowed to bring any personal items, such as phones, wallets, or purses into the testing room with you.
- Retake the exam if necessary. A score of 70 is required to pass. You will know immediately after taking the exam whether you have passed. If you have failed a section, you may retake that section with 90 days of your original test date. You do not need to retake any parts of the exam that you passed.
- The motor vehicle and public adjuster exams only have one section each.
- If you failed the public adjuster’s exam, you will have to wait seven days before retaking it. This does not apply to any of the other lines of authority.
- Apply online at the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR). You will need to wait five days after you passed your examination to apply for your license. To do this, you will go to the NIPR website. Input your personal information and pay your fees to apply for an initial producer's license in Illinois. Once accepted, the NIPR will submit the license information to the Illinois Department of Insurance. You will be notified when you can print your license.
- A Producer class certificate will cost $180.
- Illinois no longer mails licenses. Instead, you will print it off of the NIPR website.
Finding a Job
- Search for an entry-level insurance broker job. Insurance brokerage is a growing industry.
You can search for jobs using job search websites or by applying directly to local brokerage firms. Research what firms operate in your area and what lines of authority they specialize in.
- Occasionally, brokerage firms hire people who have not yet been licensed, and they train them. You may want to search for an Illinois company that offers a training program before applying for a license on your own.
- If you know of a local firm, you can contact them to see if they have any job openings.
- You may find it helpful to attend an event or tradeshow held by the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois. These events can help you network and meet important employers in the industry.
- Apply for your surety bond, if applicable. If you are not contracted as an agent, you may be required to hold a bond of $2,500 or 5 percent of the last year's brokered premiums--whichever is higher. This is required to insure your work as a broker, and it must be held in the place of business. You can get this bond through an authorized surety company.
- To get a bond, contact an authorized surety company. The type of bond you need is called an insurance producer's bond. While premiums vary, you can find ones that go for under $100 for the basic $2,500 bond.
- Earn continuing education (CE) credits. You are required to submit proof of 24 hours of CE to the Department of Insurance before you renew your license. Of these, three credit hours must be an ethics course taught in a classroom (not online).
- It takes two weeks for CE credits to appear on your license. Plan your CE courses accordingly so that you can still renew your license on time without any delays.
- The Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois offer continuing education courses for members.
- Renew your license. You will need to renew your license every one to two years, based on the type of license that you have. Your license will state the expiration date. You can renew through either an online or paper application. Before you renew, you will have to have completed all of your required CE courses for the year. Your renewal period begins 90 days before the expiration of your license.
- The State of Illinois strongly recommends that you apply online as the paper application can take up to ten weeks to process.
- While you can apply for your license through a paper application, it is not recommended unless you are a Canadian without a US resident license. It can take up to ten weeks to process your application. Canadians without their US license cannot apply electronically.
- Many brokerage firms will provide training in addition to your pre-licensing courses. When interviewing, ask about what type of training they offer to new agents.
- You must be at least 18 years old to earn a license.
- If your license expires or is cancelled, you may have to pay double the fee to reinstate your license. If it expired within the last twelve months, you do not have to retake the exam; however, if it is has been over a year, you will have to take the pre-licensing course and the exam again.
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