The largest purchase that most people make is their homes. But many unfortunate incidents can affect these shelters such as broken windows due to stray kids’ balls, structural damage from falling trees and total destruction from fires. Shelter insurance agents, more commonly known as home insurance agents, make their pay by reimbursing homeowners for such losses to allow the rebuilding of these precious assets.
Shelter insurance agents can receive compensation in two primary ways. They may work as employees of the insurance company, earning a base salary, commissions and bonuses. They also receive benefits such as health insurance, and can take advantage of company perks such as fitness centers or employee discounts at local merchants. Agents can also work as independent contractors, earning income totally from commissions, and having to spend for administrative costs. They may need to invest monthly in furniture and equipment from the insurance company in exchange for startup help, signing bonuses and incentives.
All states mandate that shelter insurance agents have a license. Requirements vary by location, though applicants need some insurance-related training and must pass several exams. Most colleges and universities offer some insurance courses, and a few have bachelor’s degrees in the field. Otherwise, most employers prefer a degree in business, economics or finance. High school graduates may find jobs if they have proven sales ability. With either education, agents usually go through training provided by the insurance companies. Agents can also get certification from national organizations such as the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research. Though these credentials are voluntary, having them can make it easier to obtain jobs or increase salaries.
Most shelter insurance agents work in comfortable offices but may need to travel to client homes or businesses, especially when soliciting policies or investigating claims. They often set their own work hours, especially if self-employed. This means work during evenings, weekends and holidays, when customers have free time. Most agents keep a 40-hour-a-week schedule, though many work longer hours, again, if self-employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2010, shelter insurance agents made a mean salary of $58,350 per year. This was greater than the average sales salary for all occupations in real estate, which was $46,660 per year.
Insurance agents rarely specialize only in shelter products, especially when working independently. Instead, they may represent several companies and deal with life, casualty, health, rental and auto insurance. Mean wages for these types of professionals were $62,520 per year. The lowest 10 percent received $25,940 per year, while the highest earned $115,340 per year. Nearly 72 percent of all insurance agents worked for agencies and brokerages, where mean wages were $62,910 annually. Only 23 percent worked for insurance carriers to earn annual means of $62,090. The highest-paying employers were insurance and employee benefit funds, where pay was a mean $68,690 per year.