For an Insurance Agent, completing your continuing education requirements is a necessary evil of being in this profession. No one likes to complete them and most wait until the very last minute to complete. If you are like me, I know my license expires in November and since I live in Texas I have to complete 30 hours of CE every two years. Now if I were really on top of my game, I would have all my CE completed by now (with it being August 1st). However, I haven’t even started. Even though I am no longer actively selling insurance, I do not want my license to lapse. NO ONE wants to take those exams ever again if they can prevent it. After recently receiving a frantic call from a licensed agent confused about receiving CE credits, I thought I would share my thoughts now that I am in a different side of the business.
Completing insurance continuing education requirements really aren’t a necessary evil any more than obtaining your license to sell in the first place. As with most licensed professionals, you are required to keep up on trends and changes within the industry. I have to remind myself (and was reminded by my manager when I was an agent) that completing my CE is the continued ability to earn an income. So whether you are making $30,000 a year or a million dollars a year as an insurance professional, think of completing your CE requirements as a $30,000+ investment in your practice.
Now with that said, here are some tips to help make completing your CE requirements a little more smooth.
1) Know your license type. This may seem obvious but recently I had a frantic agent on the phone that was having trouble understanding their completion requirements. The first question I asked was what license did he have, and he said “I don’t know. I have a lot of them”. It is critical that you verify with your Department of Insurance the CE requirements for each license type you have.
2) Know your deadline date. The same frantic agent was being fined for late completion because he thought he had until the 18th but realized he had to complete by the 17th. He was like many agents and was completing CE literally at the last minute.
3) Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your CE requirements. It is far less stressful to realize that you need 1 more hour of ethics (for example) when you have a month or a week before the deadline. It is a completely different scenario if you have 6 hours.
4) Know your credit type requirements. Many states assign a specific credit type when they approve CE courses. So be sure you select courses that match your license/credit type. Also, if you sell Annuities or Long Term Care products, be sure you understand your state CE requirements regarding those products. Many CE providers will bundle courses together to help an agent but not all bundles will include annuities or LTC courses pay close attention to CE packaged course offerings to ensure you are going to meet all your state, license, and product requirements.