Professional fields such as medicine, law and science are always in flux, with new information being added constantly. If you hired a professional in one of these areas, you would expect him or her to be completely up to date in their field of knowledge. You wouldn't want a doctor who is practicing medicine from the 1800s, would you?
The same holds true for the insurance industry. It undergoes legal shifts, innovations and refinements regularly, and not keeping up with the latest information can hold emotional and financial consequences for clients. For this reason, the industry's licensing boards have set standards that all agents must meet to keep their license current. This way, consumers have the peace of mind of knowing that their life, health or home insurance agent is privy to the very latest products, innovations and laws.
If you are a licensed insurance agent, continuing education is serious business. In fact, the most state Department of Insurance Agent and Adjuster Licensing Divisions considers continuing education so important that they now sending courtesy notices to license holders around the time of license renewal so they are aware they have continuing education hours to complete.
If you hold a license for Life, Accident, Health, Property and Casualty, Managing General Agent, are a Life or Health Counselor or a Public Adjuster, most states will require 30 hours of continuing education credits for each two year licensing period; sometimes with a fraction of those hours focusing on ethics and consumer protection. County Mutual and Limited Lines licensees usually require fewer total continuing education hours in total, but generally still must take some type of classes on ethics as part of the requirement. For all agents, these classes typically must be completed by the day prior to your license expiry date, even if you are not using your license. If you miss your date, there is generally a fine of a certain dollar amount per deficient continuing education hour. Some states offer grace periods--make sure your understand your state's particular requirements.
Luckily, most states allow you to earn hours by being active in a state or national association. Beyond that, you must participate in qualifying courses that are offered by accredited universities, colleges or law schools; are part of a national designation certification program; approved by the continuing education approval authority of a state bar or state board of public accountancy; or approved under the guidelines set forth by the state in which you are licenses. Luckily, there are many online courses available to make meeting this requirement easy and painless, especially if you are trying to fulfill your requirement at the last moment. Online study is often engaging; many companies use a multi-media format to capture salient points and make them easier to comprehend and remember.
Whether you choose an online format or a classroom, remember to make sure your classes are given by an accredited source, and within the appropriate timeframe to keep your insurance license active