Insurance Agents and Brokers - What They Do

Insurance agents and brokers sell life, automobile, property, health and other types of insurance to individuals, businesses and public institutions. Insurance agents are employed by individual insurance companies or are independent representatives of specific insurance companies. Insurance brokers are employed by brokerage firms, or may work in partnerships or hold sole proprietorship. Supervisors of insurance agents are included in this unit group.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Sell automobile, fire, health, life, property, marine, aircraft and other types of insurance to clients
  • Establish client insurance coverage, calculate premiums and establish method of payment
  • Provide information concerning group and individual insurance packages, the range of risk coverage, benefits paid and other policy features
  • Ensure appropriate forms, medical examinations and other policy requirements are completed
  • Monitor insurance claims and respond to clients' enquiries
  • Identify and solicit potential clientele.

Job titles

  • insurance agent
  • insurance broker
  • insurance sales representative
  • insurance sales supervisor
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job.

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • On-the-job training and insurance industry courses and training programs are provided and are required for employment.
  • Licensure by the insurance governing body in the province or territory of employment is required.

Essential Skills


  • Read reminders and notes from co-workers, colleagues and clients. For example, general insurance brokers read notes in files to be reminded of clients' insurance requirements. (1)
  • Read short e-mail and faxes from co-workers, colleagues and clients. For example, automobile insurance agents read claim adjusters' e-mail about car repairs. General insurance brokers read requests for clarifications in faxes from clients. (2)
  • Read text entries in forms. For example, life insurance agents read short comments and explanations which clients have entered into background questionnaires. They read comments in sections such as medical history to identify matters which may affect the acceptance of clients' applications. (2)
  • Read memos, letters and notices. For example, general insurance brokers read notices from insurance providers and industry associations to learn about upcoming continuing education opportunities. Insurance agents in larger offices read memos which outline changes in industry standards and work procedures. They read these memos to learn about the steps needed to implement new work procedures and the targets for implementing the changes. (2)
  • Read articles in newspapers and trade publications. For example, they read articles in insurance companies' newsletters to learn about changes that may affect their clients. (3)
  • Read insurance policies. For example, general insurance brokers read policies to ascertain terms and conditions, changes and exclusions. (4)
  • Read legislation and regulations. For example, they read legislation such as the Insurance Act and Regulations to make sure that their organizations comply with the law. (4)

Document use

  • Locate data in lists and tables. For example, general insurance brokers obtain insurance providers' prices from on-line rate tables. General insurance brokers review comparison tables to determine differences in insurance providers' product offerings. (1)
  • Complete entry forms. For example, they complete applications and request for quotation forms. (2)
  • Enter data into tables. For example, general insurance brokers complete tables to allow quick comparisons of insurance policy options available for their clients. They also enter data to illustrate price and coverage differences. (2)
  • Locate data in graphs. For example, general insurance brokers scan bar graphs to identify industry trends such as increases in residential break-ins and heart attacks. (3)


  • Write reminders and meeting notes. For example, they write notes in daytimers to be reminded of appointments and follow-up calls. They write notes to summarize discussions with clients and to create records for future reference. (1)
  • Write short text entries in forms. For example, they write descriptive paragraphs about clients' medical conditions and past medical and employment histories in applications for insurance coverage. (1)
  • Write e-mail to co-workers, colleagues and clients. For example, they write e-mail to answer clients' questions about policies and to respond to requests for information. They write e-mail to insurance providers' representatives in order to provide details of clients' files. They also write to prospective clients to convince them that they can provide the best insurance coverage. (2)
  • Write memos and letters to co-workers, colleagues and clients. For example, they write memos to justify requests for insurance coverage. They write letters to clarify the status of clients' claims and changes to their insurance coverage. (3)
  • May write insurance benefit overviews. For example, general insurance brokers write benefit overviews to describe the benefits of accident and disability insurance policies for clients' employees. They write the overviews in plain language so that clients can distribute them directly to their employees. (3)
  • May write quarterly and annual reports. General insurance brokers write reports for clients in which they analyze the development of their insurance plans and recommend changes. (4)


Money Math

  • Count cash and make change. For example, automobile insurance agents accept cash payments for insurance products and make change. (1)
  • May calculate policy rebates. For example, general insurance brokers calculate rebates when changes occur within policies and apply the rebates to their clients' payments. (2)
  • Prepare invoices and insurance policy quotations for clients. For example, general insurance brokers use insurance providers' rates manuals to calculate premiums. They calculate amounts for discounts and taxes before sending quotations and invoices to their clients. (3)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • May create schedules for other workers. For example, general insurance brokers in small offices determine staffing requirements and create weekly schedules. (1)
  • May reconcile cash floats. For example, automobile insurance agents summarize daily sales, compare cash and credit card receipts to sales records and identify variances. (2)
  • Calculate commissions. For example, general insurance brokers calculate monthly and annual commissions on sales. (2)
  • Analyze financial differences between insurance policies. For example, they compare deductibles, benefits and premiums from multiple insurance providers when preparing quotations for clients. (3)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • Measure physical properties using common measuring tools. For example, they use scales to weigh letters and parcels. Agents who sell home insurance use measuring tapes to measure room sizes. (1)
  • May calculate distances driven for business purposes. For example, general insurance brokers calculate distances driven in order to claim tax deductions for the use of personal vehicles for business purposes. (2)
  • May calculate areas. For example, home insurance agents calculate areas of rooms, decks and outbuildings. (2)

Data Analysis Math

  • Collect and analyze sales data. For example, general insurance brokers utilize sales data to generate statistics such as total and average monthly sales. They analyze these statistics by comparing sales differences from month-to-month and year-to-year to measure levels of success. (2)
  • Assess clients' insurance requirements and coverage. For example, when recommending insurance products to clients, they consider a variety of factors such as clients' budgets and claims histories. They analyze the dollar values of clients' past claims to determine the probability of the clients' applications' acceptance or rejection. (3)

Numerical Estimation

  • Estimate times needed to complete job tasks. For example, they estimate times needed to prepare quotations for clients. General insurance brokers estimate travel times for out-of-office appointments with clients. (1)

Oral communication

  • Discuss ongoing work with co-workers. For example, they explain appointment schedules to receptionists and secretaries. They discuss office improvement suggestions with co-workers during staff meetings. (1)
  • May instruct junior staff on policies and procedures. For example, they may explain the how rates manuals are organized to new staff members. (2)
  • Discuss technical aspects of insurance products with co-workers, colleagues and representatives of insurance providers. For example, they seek advice about handling unusual client requests from more experienced co-workers. They discuss ambiguous policy wordings with insurance providers' representatives. (2)
  • May present information on insurance products to large groups. For example, general insurance brokers present overviews of benefit packages to clients' employees. They explain insurance coverage and benefits in plain language. They facilitate question and answer sessions after their presentations. (3)
  • Discuss insurance coverage and policies with clients. For example, they explain coverage options and recommend products to meet their clients' needs. They discuss claims and claim processes, and advise clients before connecting them with claims departments. (3)


Problem Solving

  • Find that they have failed to sufficiently explain insurance products to clients. For example, when a client's boat is stolen, an agent learns that the client expects the boat to be replaced with a new one. The agent reads the client's policy and determines that the client's insurance pays current market value for the stolen boat rather than its replacement cost. The agent informs the client that the insurance provider is correct in issuing cash for the value of the boat stolen. The agent reminds the client that he chose this coverage when the policy was purchased and apologizes for not explaining the provisions of the policy more clearly. (1)
  • Discover billing errors that complicate relationships with clients. For example, life insurance agents discover that discounts have not been applied to their clients' policies. They discuss the overpayments with insurance company representatives and arrange for credits to clients' accounts. (1)
  • Find that clients' insurance claims are being neglected. For example, automobile insurance agents may discover that insurance adjusters are not returning clients' phone calls. They inform the clients they will look into the situation and then call the insurance adjusters directly. (2)
  • May find that sales have dropped significantly. For example, general insurance brokers and life insurance agents find that they are spending more time on administrative tasks than on selling. They allot more time for cold-calling and asking current clients for referrals. (3)

Decision Making

  • Choose adult education opportunities to pursue. For example, general insurance brokers and life insurance agents choose courses to satisfy certification requirements. (1)
  • Decide to seek advice on technical and business matters. For example, automobile insurance agents seek advice from their co-workers when they are unsure about rules and precedents for insurance policies. (1)
  • Make decisions about the management of clients' affairs and accounts. For example, general insurance brokers decide to call insurance representatives to request leniency on their clients' claims. They decide to apply loyalty discounts. (2)
  • Choose marketing approaches and methods. For example, general insurance agents mail sales brochures to tenants of new apartment buildings to promote sales of insurance to renters. (3)
  • May choose clients to represent. For example, general insurance brokers pursue applicants with high potentials for sales. They decide not to sell to high-risk applicants. (3)

Critical Thinking

  • Evaluate the suitability of potential clients. For example, commercial insurance agents evaluate prospects for sales calls. They identify property owners within their sales territories and gather information about the sizes of prospective clients' property portfolios and the tenants of those properties. (2)
  • May assess the quality of insurance providers. For example, general insurance brokers consider quantitative criteria such as cost, and qualitative criteria such as the ease of dealing with providers. They consider their own experiences with insurance providers as well as the providers' reputations within the industry. (3)

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Insurance agents and brokers plan the sequence of their own job tasks. Their first priority is serving clients. When they are not engaged with clients, they carry out administrative tasks, such as filing. Their job task plans are often disrupted by unexpected visits by clients and by matters such as emergency claims. (2)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Insurance agents and brokers in larger offices assign administrative tasks such as filing to support staff.

Significant Use of Memory

  • Recall clients' personal details such as family composition to build rapport and to maintain long-term relationships.
  • Remember changes to insurance regulations which affect clients' policies.

Finding Information

  • Locate information about current clients. For example, they seek contact details of clients and information about the policies they hold from insurance companies' databases. (1)
  • Locate information about insurance products. They consult colleagues, search websites and policy manuals, and speak to insurance providers' representatives to locate the required information. (2)
  • May seek information about prospective clients. For example, general insurance brokers review prospective clients' websites to learn about their businesses before cold-calling them or meeting for the first time. (3)

Digital technology

  • Use graphics software. For example, general insurance brokers may use presentation software such as PowerPoint to create slide presentations for groups of prospective clients. They insert graphs to illustrate key concepts. (1)
  • May use financial software. For example, general insurance brokers use accounting software such as QuickBooks to track their income and expenses and to generate invoices. (1)
  • Use other computer and software applications. For example, general insurance brokers use industry-specific software such as quotation calculators and replacement value calculators. They enter the required information and the program generates price quotations or replacement values. (1)
  • Use word processing. For example, they use word processing programs such as Word to write, edit and format letters, proposals, reports, labels, flyers, memos and faxes. They use tools such as spell-check, and thesaurus, and also employ a variety of formatting options. They may insert logos, tables or images. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, they use insurance providers' databases to retrieve policy holders' contact information and details of their policies and claim histories. They also enter data on new clients and generate reports and queries. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they create spreadsheets to collect and organize data on sales, appointment schedules and clients. They insert formulas, merge cells, create graphs and import and export data. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they use e-mail programs to exchange e-mail and attachments with co-workers, colleagues and clients. (2)
  • Use the Internet and local intranets. For example, they use browsers such as Internet Explorer to locate articles in on-line journals and newsletters, to learn about potential and current clients by visiting their websites and to participate in on-line continuing education courses. They also use on-line calculation tools and download application forms from insurance providers' websites. (2)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Insurance agents and brokers work independently preparing and explaining insurance quotations to clients. Insurance agents and brokers co-ordinate job tasks with other office staff. (2)

Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is important to insurance agents and brokers because they must maintain current knowledge regarding insurance carriers' products and policies, taxation rules and economic factors such as interest rates which may affect the products which they sell. On a day-to-day basis, they acquire knowledge through interactions with co-workers, colleagues and insurance providers. They attend conferences and seminars both in-person and on-line, and read professional journals, magazines and on-line newsletters to learn about best practices and insurance industry trends. (2)