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If you like to help people and don't mind working on your own, you might want to look into a career as an insurance agent. Insurance agents sell policies that give people protection for their lives, health, and property. When a client has a loss, the agent helps the policyholder settle the claims. Agents get to know their clients and suggest changes in the policies as changes occur in the lives of the clients.

Insurance agents may work either for a company or independently. An agent who works for one company sells only that company's policies. An independent agent can give clients a choice of policies from several companies. Some agents specialize in one kind of insurance. Others sell a variety of policies—life, health, disability, long-term care, property, and casualty insurance.

An insurance agent is constantly seeking new clients. Agents find clients in a variety of ways. They may send out mailings to promote their services. They read the newspaper to learn of new people in the community. They join groups so they can network with others. And they hope that satisfied clients will recommend them to their friends.

An insurance agent takes notes as he assesses flood damage to a building. Clients rely on their insurance agents to follow up on their claims and represent their interests.

Once an agent has a client, the agent meets with the client to discuss the person's insurance needs. If the client is interested in life insurance, the agent must be able to explain the types of life insurance. These include whole life, term, death payments, mortgage payments, college education, and annuities for retirement income. After this first meeting, the insurance agent writes an insurance plan to meet the client's needs and budget. For health insurance, the agent checks the various offerings to find one that fits the client's family. The sale is closed when the agent and the client have agreed on a policy and the client has filled out an application, taken a physical exam if necessary, and paid the first premium. Some sales are easy, and some take weeks to close.

Agents follow up regularly with their clients to make sure a policy is still covering a client's needs and to see if more insurance is needed. If a client has suffered a property loss, the agent will help him or her get estimates for repairs and get the claim settled as quickly as possible.

Successful agents take a personal interest in their clients' lives. They keep track of moves, promotions, new members of the family, teenage drivers, and college students. They can suggest increased or decreased coverage to their customers as their needs change, and they can let the client know when better coverage is available. These agents are the ones who get repeat business.

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