The insurance industry is an ever changing and evolving business, and this dynamic environment requires insurance producers to be well trained to do their jobs effectively. In order to keep their license in good standing, insurance producers, similar to financial advisors and real estate producers/brokers, are required, in all states, to complete continuing education credits (CE). However, there are five common options that may help you reduce the number of hours you need to complete or even eliminate the need for CE altogether.
Before we tackle a few examples of how a producer can save some time on their CE requirements, we want to be clear that state insurance rules and regulations change often, and this isn’t a comprehensive list of CE requirements – or lack thereof. We also want to emphasize that we think CE is an important aspect of an insurance producer’s professional development, so we’re not advocating for anyone to avoid insurance education. We do recognize, however, that CE credits can be costly and time consuming, and if you’re in a position where they aren’t strictly required, you may want to take advantage of it.
We aren’t able to cover all the nuances of this topic here, so be certain to do your homework and research the specific regulations for CE in your state. As they say in the television business, check your local listings.
What are continuing education credits (CE)?
Producers obtain licenses to sell insurance. In order to continue to sell insurance products, states require licensed producers to stay current on certain aspects of the business like ethics and other important areas.
States require that insurance license holders complete continuing education (CE) credits. Life, casualty, property, and health insurance licensees typically will need to hit the books for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours per biennial, triennial, or quadrennial renewal cycle, depending on the state and license type. Some producers who have certifications (or degrees) or sell specialty or limited lines of insurance may be exempt from CE requirements, depending on their state of residence. Set credit hour requirements include classes on ethics and other pertinent topics. These rules help producers maintain their ability to sell different types of insurance.
What are 5 common situations that can exempt you from CE?
There are some unique insurance CE state exemptions in this country and, as we have pointed out, every state has different rules and regulations. There are also other possible ways to remove the CE work from your “to-do” list, and they may not require you to defend your dissertation in front of 30 academics.
Let’s look at five situations where an individual can be exempt CE credits:
Did you earn a Bachelor’s Degree or a PhD in insurance?
In the United States, a student may enroll in an accredited university undergraduate or graduate program in insurance. For example, in Georgia, if you happen to hold a PhD in insurance (yes, there is such a thing) you can request a complete exemption from CE requirements. A PhD in anything is serious business, so kudos to all you insurance PhDs.
Each program, typically called Risk Management and Insurance, may offer a different curriculum. For example, the syllabus may include classwork on various lines of authority (LOA) like life and property and casualty insurance along with corporate risk management. Like any other degree such as Biology or Chemistry, a person can earn a Bachelors and a PhD in insurance. Temple University and Florida State University offer a program entitled, Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration – Risk Management and Insurance. These degrees cost money, but the benefits can help launch you on a long and successful career path in insurance (and save you some serious time on future CE credit work like in the State of Georgia).
Are you a senior insurance producer?
Many states offer CE waivers to producers who meet a certain age threshold and have held a license for a substantial number of consecutive years.
In Rhode Island, resident producers over the age of 60 who have held a license for at least 20 consecutive years are exempt. Resident producers over the age of 55 who have held a license for at least 25 consecutive years are also exempt from further CE work.
In Virginia, resident producers who are at least 65 years old and have held a Virginia license for 20 consecutive years don’t need to worry about CE requirements. Also, producers who are at least 65 years old, have held their license for the preceding four years, and hold a license authority in Virginia for at least 20 of the immediately preceding 30 years may also be exempt from maintaining CE requirements. It’s a mouthful to be sure, but even the shortcuts in this industry can be complicated.
In addition, other states such as Georgia will reduce the number of required CE hours to 20, if you have held a license for more than 20 years.
Are you on active military duty?
Some states offer CE exemptions for those producers who are also on active military duty. Hawaii is one such state where you can request a waiver and regulators often grant these requests.
Regulators in these states assume active duty military personnel are busy in their roles serving our country and are otherwise too engaged elsewhere to focus on CE credits. Of course, when you are inactive and selling insurance again, you can then fulfill your full CE obligations. Also worth noting, active duty military producers’ spouses may be able to get their licensing fees waived in certain states.
Are you a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?
In some states such as New Hampshire, CFPs are able to bypass CE requirements. A CFP must undergo rigorous financial training in order to earn this certification, and they also are required to complete their own CFP CE. A big prerequisite for this certification is a four year degree, so the process can be lengthy. If all goes well, and you pass the final exam and meet all the necessary requirements, you will be able to waive insurance CE requirements in select states (a two-for-one deal, if you will), as you will have completed your CFP CE).
Do you happen to be a lawyer?
If you’re a lawyer In Iowa, South Dakota, and Maryland and you’ve done your respective legal CE, you may be able to bow out of insurance CE. How about that? You won’t be required to do two different kinds of CE. Granted, passing the bar exam isn’t an easy feat, but if you succeed and you’re a lawyer in good standing, you can step into the pass line for insurance CE.
There are other criteria that may exempt you as well
Aside from what we’ve mentioned above, states have deemed several other criteria as sufficient for limiting or exempting the number of CE credits required.
Let’s discuss a few examples:
Producers with a long-term illness or other situation that renders them incapacited are able to qualify for a waiver. In addition, limited lines producers are excused from standard CE.
Producers who hold a license in crop insurance (this is Indiana), as a consultant, public adjusters, and even funeral insurance get a pass when it involves Indiana state CE educational coursework.
Producers are relieved of 24 hours of CE if they’re just selling limited lines including travel accident and travel baggage insurance, credit life, accident, as well as mortgage guaranty.
If a producer has been on the up and up (not violated Arizona CE law), has held a license in the state continuously since Jan. 1, 1995, and doesn’t hold a license as a nonresident of other states, they may get an exclusion. In addition, if they happen to be a licensed bail bonds agent or an adjuster they may get a CE break as well.
Again, this is just a partial list, and there could be more exemptions in regards to each state, so please do your own due diligence.
Should you go back to school?
There are countless benefits to earning a certification or a degree. Of course, everyone’s personal situation is different, but setting hours aside each week to work towards that BA or CFP certification could be life-changing.
It may be worthwhile, if you’re planning a long career in insurance, to research study areas that could assist you in saving on some future CE study time. We cannot emphasize enough though that you must do in-depth research in your particular state. Visit your state’s department of insurance website to find out all the latest CE information.
We can’t help producers with their PhD dissertation, but we can help them enjoy their onboarding process a little more and get them out there selling faster. See how AgentSync can help give you a real-time view into every aspect of your producers’ compliance – including CE.