Although many are quick to label insurance as a “change-resistant” industry, those working in the field know it can actually be just the opposite. The world we live in is constantly evolving— think climate change, artificial intelligence, and a global pandemic (just to name a few). These modern day challenges and inventions carry varying degrees of risk that insurers work to better understand and create products to protect their consumers against.
On top of changes in risk, the industry is also continuously adapting to new state regulations, best practices, and technological advancements. Overall, it’s safe to say that the world of insurance is actually pretty dynamic, which is exactly why those working in the industry need to be up-to-date on new information, terms, and trends. To help producers keep up with emerging changes and best serve their customers, all states require agents to keep up with continuing education (CE) if they wish to continue selling insurance products.
A quick refresher on continuing education
We have a thing for continuously educating our readers on continuous education (sorry, I had to). For the purpose of this blog, we’ll stick to the basics, but if you’re looking for information about federal CE requirements, modern day CE courses, or even a state-by-state CE guide, we’ve got you covered!
What is continuing education in insurance?
Continuing education is a state or even federal requirement that an insurance producer or adjuster spend a certain number of hours being educated about industry topics in person or online in any given period, typically two years.
While the day-to-day life of an active and engaged insurance agent brings with it plenty of insight into new insurance products and regulatory updates, CE offers insurance regulators a formal control in ensuring new and important information gets to the eyes of producers.
CE helps agents serve their clients both legally and ethically as new developments continue to shape the business of insurance. Each state requires producers to complete a certain amount of CE credits to keep their license in good standing and continue selling insurance products to consumers. CE is a key component in a producer’s ability to renew their existing residential license as well as any non-resident licenses they hold that depend on it.
CE requirements vary by state
Of course they do. Did you really expect anything different? Every state requires producers with a resident license to complete CE credits, but while most of them require 24 hours every two years, there are some exceptions. For example, in South Dakota, a producer needs to complete at least 10 hours of CE every two years for courses in each of the lines of authority they hold a license for. And in Massachusetts, new producers need to rack up 60 hours of CE before their first renewal which happens every three years, not two.
So what does this mean for producers with licenses in multiple states? Luckily, for the most part, the states recognize each other’s CE requirements as sufficient, so don’t worry about having to fill the CE requirements for every state you operate in. As long as you keep up with your resident state’s requirements, you should be in the clear. (There are, of course, some very specific exceptions: For more, check out the states you operate in via our Compliance Library.)
When is CE due?
Most states dictate that a producer must meet their CE requirements by or before their license renewal date. Typically, this happens every two years, although renewal dates can vary by state with some as short as one year and others as long as four years. To add more complexity to the mix, some states even vary license renewals based on different lines of authority. The best way to be sure when your renewal date is is to check with your resident state.
But what about states with perpetual licenses?
In most cases, CE is due by or before your license renewal date. That’s easy enough to remember. But what if your resident license doesn’t have a renewal date? There are a handful of states that offer perpetual producer licenses – aka licenses that never expire and therefore don’t have renewal dates. In these states, failing to stay up to date on CE requirements doesn’t mean your license will expire, but it can still put a stop to your sales. Let’s explore how CE is handled in states with perpetual licenses.
Maine – Also known as the Pine Tree State, where the trees are evergreen and the producer licenses are everlasting. If you hold a resident license in Maine, your CE is due by the end of your birth month every two years in even or odd years based on the year you were born. If you’re a forgetful person, no worries, Maine will actually send you a reminder a full six months in advance of the deadline. But keep that reminder top of mind, because failing to complete your CE can result in your sales ability being put on pause.
Michigan – If you seek a pleasant peninsula (and perpetual producer license), look about you. In Michigan, the due date for your CE is important in keeping your license in force. Missing the date can result in the state switching the status of your license and all carrier appointments to inactive. While other states on this list dictate that CE must be completed by the last day of a producer’s birth month, Michigan plays by its own rules. If you are a Michigan resident licensee, your CE due date is the first (emphasis on first) day of your birth month every two years, in even or odd years based on the year you were born.
North Carolina – While stepping in some North Carolina tar could surely slow a producer down, license renewals definitely won’t. But, missing the deadline for CE could stop any business you’re transacting in its tracks. In North Carolina, much like Maine, producers must update their CE by the end of their birth month every two years in even or odd years based on the year you were born. However, unlike Maine, you won’t be receiving a reminder ahead of time, so you better stay on top of it.
Florida – Ahh Florida. Birthplace of NASCAR, Gatorade, and ATMs for rollerbladers. Also, it is one of the few states with perpetual licenses. As a Florida resident insurance license holder, your CE is due on the last day of your birth month every two years based on the year your license was first issued. If that day rolls around before you’ve been licensed for two years, Florida can grant you a one-year extension on your first CE deadline. But don’t think that means you can continue putting off your CE. Your license may not expire, but the state can still terminate your appointments and put a hold on your sales.
Why staying on top of CE requirements matters
Keeping track of producer licensing and CE requirements can be a complex and difficult process. While it may seem like having no renewal date to keep track of would simplify the process, without a renewal date, remembering to keep up with CE can be difficult. Especially for agencies that keep track of renewals and CE for multiple producers.
Remaining up-to-date on CE requirements is necessary for any individual who wishes to continue selling insurance products to consumers. If a producer fails to keep up with CE requirements, whether intentionally or not, they risk losing their appointments and having their transactions put on hold. While having a perpetual resident license will keep producers who miss their CE deadlines off the hook from completely losing their resident license, it could still be a deal breaker for any non-resident licenses they hold.
AgentSync helps you stay up-to-date on CE requirements, even for perpetual licenses
We recently received a question from one of our Change Agents community members asking if and how our solution can help agencies keep track of CE requirements for producers who reside in states with perpetual licenses.
The answer is yes, it can! If there’s one thing we know best it’s how to tackle compliance-related complexities in your producer management workflows – like making sure all your producers are properly licensed and up-to-date on their CE. With AgentSync Manage, you can create reports and set up CE deadline alerts by providing a producer’s name, resident license, and license expiration date.
Without an expiration date (i.e. in perpetual license cases), you can still keep track of CE requirements using our solution. To do so, you just need to create a task that will remind you to check a producer’s CE status 30, 60, or however many days you want before a perpetual license is due for CE. Et voila! Now you never have to worry about falling out of compliance due to missing a producer’s CE deadlines again!
The benefits don’t stop there. If you’re looking for ways to make producer licensing, onboarding, and compliance management frictionless for everyone at your agency, carrier, or MGA/MGU, check out AgentSync compliance software can do for you.