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Preparing for the California Life Insurance Exam


Life insurance professionals in California are not able to buy, sell or receive commissions on insurance policies until they have passed the state exam.

The Department of Insurance has outlined the requirements necessary to become a licensed life insurance agent in California. After taking the necessary pre-licensing training courses, candidates have the knowledge necessary to successfully pass the state exam.

Resident vs. Nonresident License

To become a licensed life insurance agent in the state of California, you first have to decide if you wish to obtain an in-state or out-of-state license (nonresident). To obtain the resident life insurance agent license, you must be at least 18 years old and reside in the state of California. If you do not live in California, you can apply for a nonresident life insurance agent license. To do so, however, you must have a valid life insurance license in good standing in your home state.

Life Insurance Pre-Licensing Education

The California Department of Insurance requires all of its life insurance agents to take pre-licensing education classes. You must take at least 12 course hours on the topic of California insurance code and ethics, and an additional 20 hours of insurance classes on the topic of life insurance. The California Department of Insurance maintains a database of approved pre-licensing education providers. Visit the website to access the list of course providers.

Life Insurance Course Content Outline

The pre-licensing education course teaches the responsibilities of a life insurance agent, the basic concepts and principles of life insurance, benefit structure in the event of death or dismemberment by accident, the benefits of endowments and annuities. In addition to life insurance basics, the pre-licensing training course covers practical topics such as what is happening in today’s life insurance marketplace, alternative disability insurance programs and the most commonly used non-insurance disability systems. At the end of the 32-hour class, you are prepared to take the state licensing exam.

California State Licensing Exam

CaliforniaLife insurance agents must take and pass the state insurance licensing exam. To initiate the process, you must complete the online FLASH (Fast Licensing Application Service Is Here) application. Your information is sent to the Department of Insurance within 24 hours of completing the application. After the application is received and processed, the state forwards the necessary information exam scheduling information to you so you can schedule and take the state licensing exam.

The state only sends the exam information after the application is complete and in order, so review your application before sending to make sure you have answered all of the questions. After successfully passing the exam, your scores are forwarded to the California Department of Insurance.

Fingerprinting and Background Check

Every life insurance agent must submit to fingerprinting and a background check. The California Department of Insurance uses an organization called Live Scan to administer the fingerprinting process and run the background checks. Live Scan fingerprinting locations are listed on the California Office of Attorney General website. Once you get fingerprinted, your fingerprints are checked against the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement databases.

Words of Advice

Get fingerprinted early in the life insurance licensing application process. It takes time for the FBI and local law enforcement offices to run the fingerprints and prepare the report. By getting the fingerprints early in the process, the Department of Insurance will have the completed criminal background check in time to match with your passing exam score.

About the author: Felicia A. Williams is a wife, mother, freelance writer and owner of Tidbits About Money.

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