In every U.S. state, continuing education (CE) is a key component that determines your ability to renew your existing residential insurance license, as well as any nonresident licenses that depend on that one.
Even in states with perpetual licenses, licenses that never expire, CE determines whether the state considers your license in good standing and considers you ready to sell.
Producers don’t naturally gravitate toward CE as a means to keep themselves apprised of industry innovations – being an active and engaged insurance professional often brings its own depth of insight. Yet, formalized CE requirements are one of the only controls that regulators have to get information in front of insurance professionals. So, while it can sometimes seem burdensome, CE requirements are here to stay.
Insurance CE requirements vary by state
Each state has its own requirements, and while most require 24 hours of CE every two years, you have state variances such as South Dakota’s 10 hours for a line of authority, or Massachusetts’s 60-hour initial renewal cycle.
Thankfully, producers don’t have to worry about filling all requirements for every state they operate in. With a few exceptions for local state health care or long-term care exchange CE courses, every state and territory recognizes each other’s CE requirements as sufficient for nonresidents. The full meaning of this is that, as long as your CE is current in your resident state, the states where you have nonresident insurance licenses consider you A-OK for their CE requirements, as well.
Education about insurance education
Staying on top of CE requirements takes diligence and a little bit of self education, if you don’t mind the pun. Many CE providers allow you to take a panoply of insurance courses no matter what state you’re in, and most producers have a broad catalog available thanks to the states that are members of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ CE Reciprocity agreement. Yet, the variance state to state still makes it difficult to issue broad, universal guidelines.
Knowing the state-specific recommendations and general guidelines for your resident state can save you headaches and late fees down the road.
Insurance Continuing Education FAQs
Most states have guidelines on how insurance producers can get credit. All allow some version of online and computer-based options, which may or may not need to be proctored. Some allow self-study courses. There are also companies that exclusively offer insurance continuing education courses, which can be easy and convenient ways to get the bulk of CE credits.
If your state is a member of the NAIC continuing education reciprocity then you can take approved reciprocal courses from member states for CE credit in your resident state. There are some nuances here, so be sure to check out our article about NAIC CER, as well as verifying any courses with your specific resident state.
Not all states have a proctor requirement. Most states that require a proctor insist that the proctor can’t be related to the producer, and can’t have any incentives tied to the outcome of the producer’s exam (i.e. being a member of their household or business and being financially dependent on the producer passing their exam). At least one state merely requires that the proctor be licensed in the state where the producer is taking the exam. In all states that require a proctor, the proctor must be present for the entirety of the exam, and must sign an affidavit guaranteeing that the producer took the exam without the help of outside materials or resources.
A proctor is someone who can certify that you took and passed your continuing education exam without the aid of notes or outside materials. Basically, it’s someone who can verify that you didn’t cheat to pass your CE exam. Some states require a proctor for self-study, online, and remote exams, but not all.
If you are earning a bachelor’s degree in insurance, or pursuing a professional designation such as Certified Financial Planner, most states allow you to count this credit toward your required state CE hours. Be sure to check out state variance in reporting, however, since some states will require you to pay an extra fee for the state CE.
If taking a course through an insurer-provided seminar or similar situation, you may be able to take the initial CE for free, although other times you may have to pay a fee to take it through, say, an online CE provider. The state will also likely charge a reporting fee, which some CE providers will include as part of their charge to the licensee, while other times the licensee will need to pay the state separately. Fees vary state by state.
In most states, you must meet your continuing education requirements by or before your license renewal date. Typically, this is every two years, although it may be as short as one or as long as four, and may even vary based on line of authority. Check with your resident state to be sure of your specific requirements.
Again, check with your resident state. Some states say no, others say yes, and others still split the difference by having a semi- or pro-rated approach to getting CE in your first renewal period. Also, holla to Massachusetts, which actually insists that you complete more CE in your first, shortest licensing period than in any other.
Find Insurance Continuing Education Information by State