How to Get an Insurance License

Believe it or not, getting an insurance license is NOT a complicated process. This page is devoted to breaking the process down to the smallest of details. You may want to bookmark this page because everything you could possibly want to know about getting an insurance license is covered here. You have stumbled upon the Holy Grail of insurance licensing FAQs...You should go buy a lottery ticket before your luck fades.

Much of what you need to know to get your insurance license is State Specific, don't be affraid to click away from this page; the state specific page is probably where you want to be anyway...

Regardless of what state you plan to get licensed in, there are only 4 simple steps to get an insurance license and set yourself up for a rewarding and lucrative career:

  1. Study for your exam
  2. Pass your exam
  3. tbe best online insurance school
  4. Get fingerprinted
  5. Apply for your license

1. Study for the exam

What is the best study material for the insurance licensing exam?

We recommended the TESTivity Virtual Learning Experience.

Let's face it, there are a lot of online insurance courses out there, it seems like a new one pops up everyday. Most of these "Insurance license test prep courses” are just a powerpoint presentation salted with a few sample questions. Not here! Our Virtual Learning Experience is the most robust pre-license course on the planet. We are the only insurance school to offer all of the following learning tools in every course:

  • Interactive Video Course
  • Virtual Textbook
  • Audio Reinforcement
  • Virtual Flash Cards
  • TESTivity Mind Maps
  • Interactive Crossword Puzzles
  • Quizzes and Exam Simulator
  • Insurance Glossary
  • Personal Coach
Virtual Learning Experience--Includes EVERYTHING!

I am a visual learner. Does your online insurance course include Video?

Absolutely! The TESTivity insurance school video course is much more that just some paid actor reading cue cards or raw footage of a "teacher" scribbling on a white board. Every module has a professionally produced interactive video component that requires the learner to answer "pop up" questions throughout the course. This of course, keeps your brain engaged and able to learn but the true value to the video component is the instructor Matt Williams...that guy can be funny, and you never even see it coming! Check out his bio here. We have spent years developing a product that forces you to retain the information necessary to pass the exam and get your insurance license!

I am an auditory learner. Does your online insurance course include Audio?

Everything in the TESTivity Virtual Learning Experience is reinforced with audio...You can read the virtual textbook, or you can listen. Most people read AND listen, you turn the page with a click of the mouse and the author immediately picks up the dialogue. Even the Flashcards have an audio setting, the audio is a great tool for preparing for your insurance exam.

In addition to all of the audio based study materials that are included in the course you also get the full blown “insurance test prep audio course” that can be streamed from any computer, burned to disk or uploaded to iTunes for learning on the go.

I learn best with “hands on” experiences. How can you help me study for the insurance exam?

The TESTivity Virtual Learning Experience is the most “hands on” insurance exam course that you will find...anywhere. We spare no expense when it comes to making our insurance courses fun and interactive. Every online test prep course we have includes Games, Mind Maps, Flashcards and interactive videos, and of course practice questions...tons of practice questions!

There is a quiz at the end of each module. After every third module there is a progress review that test you on everything you have learned to that point. At the end of the course you have final exams that are weighted to mimic the actual state insurance licensing exam. You can that the quizzes, progress reviews and final exams as many times as you want. When you are scoring over 85% you are ready to take the state exam. There is no way you can score over 85% on our insurance exam practice questions and then fail the state exam. At our insurance school, we write practice questions that are VERY representative of what you will see on the actual state insurance licensing test.

To try some free sample practice questions from the Property & Casualty and/or the Life & Health exams check out the Free Stuff at the bottom of our Test Tips page.

I have heard that “insurance lingo” or vocabulary is a big part of passing the licensing exam. Is this true?

Absolutely. When you get into the testing center you will be amazed at how much of the exam is "definitional". The truth is, most of the questions on the insurance licensing exam are very entry level...quite often if you know what the word means, the question is not even remotely difficult. For example:

What effect does a rating have on an insurance policy?

...This is an actual question, straight from the actual exam. The answer is Increased Premium. If you know what a rating is, this is is a simple definition question. If you are fat, or old, if you smoke, if you have diabetes, maybe you like to hang glide or SCUBA dive...Well guess what, the insurance company is going to call you a “substandard risk”, they are going to rate your policy and you are going to pay more for your insurance.

So, what effect does a rating have on a policy?

Increased premium.


If you don't know what the word means you will be flat out guessing on an easy question. You don’t want to fail the exam because you were guessing on easy questions!

The real challenge to passing the exam is that there is so much information, most of which is probably new to you and is not a part of your everyday vocabulary. Before any candidate for licensure can successfully pass the pre-license exam, they must have a mastery of the vocabulary that will be used on the state licensing test. The TESTivity glossary (which we give to the world para gratis) contains insurance terms and definitions that are commonly used in the insurance industry...and more importantly commonly used on the licensing exam!

Do I have to take a class to get an insurance license?

Some states (like Illinois) require you go to a physical class and sit there watching a “teacher” scribble on a white board for 20 hours. Some states (like Florida) have a 60 hour pre-license education requirement, but it can be satisfied via an online course. California has a 52 hour requirement, and most other states that require a pre-licensing class before sitting for the insurance exam have a 40 hour requirement.

Several states have no pre-license education requirement at all, but don’t let this fool you into thinking you can just go in and pass the exam...Yes, you can just go in and TAKE the exam, but if you want to PASS the exam you will have to study!

As I am sure you have realized by now, much of what you need to know about getting an insurance license is going to vary by state. Because we love you and want you to get licensed, we have built out state specific FAQ pages that will give you all the details of getting licensed to sell insurance in YOUR state. Click here to check it out.

Are you an “Approved Provider” for insurance licensing education?

At TESTivity our goal is to be an Approved Provider for insurance pre-license education in all 50 states, and we are well on our way! Infact we just added Alabama to the list of states that have approved the Virtual Learning Experience as a online test prep course to satisfy the state pre-license education requirement. We are either approved or in the approval process for almost every state in the union, check your state specific FAQ page to confirm if we are approved where you plan to take the exam.

insurance school licensing FAQs©

2. Pass the exam

What is the test like to get an insurance license like?

The insurance licensing exam is computer based, don’t panic if you lack technical skills, taking the examination by computer is simple. You do not need any computer experience or typing skills. You will use fewer keys than you use on a touch-tone telephone. All response keys are colored and have prominent characters. You may also use the mouse.

Are the questions on the exam grouped by category?

No. The test will have an appropriate number of questions from each subject matter category (ie 5 Dental, 12 Disability Income, 10 Medical Expenses... or 13 Personal Auto, 22 Home Owners, 16 Dwelling etc.) but they will NOT be grouped together. Question #1 might be a regulation question, followed by a variable life insurance question, then 2 annuity questions in a row followed by a required policy provision question...While you never know what will come at you next, rest assured that you will be ready for whatever comes because you studied the right way using the TESTivity Virtual Learning Experience!

You can get a copy of the exam content outline for the test you are preparing for at our state specific FAQs page.

How much time will I have to complete the test?

Plenty. Do not worry about running out of time. In all the years we have been teaching insurance exam test prep courses and of the tens of thousands of students who have sat for a licensing exam we are aware of 1 person who ran out of time. She actually told us that she fell asleep in the testing center...Seriously.

You will find a handy table of the number of questions and the allotted time for the exams available in your state on our state specific insurance licensing FAQs page.

What score do I need to pass the exam?

As a general statement, 70% is a passing score. But there are always exceptions to the rule. Some states require 80%, some of the investment exams require 68.5% or 72%. In some states you can pass the general insurance section and fail the state regulation section and vice versa. You can find information about exams available in your state on our state specific insurance licensing FAQs page.

Do you have sample questions from the insurance license exam?

Of course we do. We have TONS of sample questions! The questions in our insurance exam simulator are VERY representative of the questions on the state licensing exam. Here are a couple examples of what you can expect:

TESTivity Insurance School Sample Practice Questions from the Licensing Exam

Property & Casualty Exam Questions

Which policy provides additional amounts of protection once underlying limits are exhausted?

  1. Malpractice
  2. Excess
  3. Surplus lines
  4. Umbrella

Life & Health Exam Questions

Which best defines a life annuity with period certain?

  1. It pays through the certain period after which all payments cease
  2. It pays until death of the annuitant, at which time the beneficiary begins receiving payments for life
  3. It pays for a minimum number of years, or for the rest of the annuitant’s life, whichever is the longer
  4. It pays a monthly amount equal to the cash value on the day of annuitization price in a specific number of installments

Insurance Regulations

In New Mexico, a lapsed policy may be reinstated:

  1. within 1 year of policy lapse
  2. up to 90 days after the grace period expires
  3. never
  4. within 3 years of policy lapse

Answer: B

Excess Liability is designed to provide excess limits of coverage above the limits of applicable underlying coverage. This type of policy does not provide broader protection than is provided by the underlying policy. It provides a greater coverage limit only.

Answer: C

With a period certain payout option, monthly payments are guaranteed for the life of the annuitant and if the annuitant dies during the period certain, payments are guaranteed to the designated beneficiary for the remainder of the period certain.

Answer: D 

If a policy lapses, NAIC insurance law allows the policy owner may apply to have the policy reinstated. The insured must provide evidence of insurability; and pay past-due premiums, any outstanding policy loans, and interest on the outstanding loan and past-due premiums. Reinstatement must be applied for within 3 years.

Insurance exam practice questions and the exam simulator are included in our online insurance license course, the TESTivity Virtual Learning Experience.

You can get more free insurance exam sample questions and and lots of other cool stuff on our Insurance Licensing Test Tips page (near the bottom under FREE insurance exam practice tests).

How do I sign up to take the insurance licensing exam?

There are several testing centers, some allow telephone, mail, or even FAX registration but the easiest and most common way to sign up is online. In fact some testing centers require you to register for the insurance exam online. There is information about who administers the exams in your area (with links and contact info) on our state specific insurance licensing FAQs page.

Where can I take the insurance exam?

There are several locations to take the insurance exam at, likely there is one conveniently close to your home or office. Information about who administers the exams in your area (with addresses, maps and driving directions) can be found on our state specific insurance licensing FAQs page.

What can I expect when I show up at the testing center to take my insurance exam?

Get There Early

On the day of the examination, you should arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment. This extra time is for sign-in, identification, and familiarizing you with the examination process. If you arrive late, you may not be admitted to the examination site and you will forfeit your examination registration fee.

Included with the TESTivity Virtual Learning Experience you are going to get a .pdf of notes that Matt Williams (the best instructor in the world) has collected over the years. This document is packed full of concepts that are absolutely going to be on the exam. This handout is in an easy to read bullet-point format, print it out and take it with you! Read through it several times right before you walk in the door to the testing center, packing this info into your short term memory will improve your score by several points.

Bring ID

You will be required to have two (2) forms of valid (non-expired) signature bearing identification 1 of which must be an acceptable government-issued identification card or document (ie Driver's License, Passport, US Federal Government Issued Alien Registration Card, Canadian Government Issued Identification Card etc.)

Security Procedures

The following security procedures apply during examinations:

  • You will not be allowed to use you own calculator…So what, you don’t need one. Most testing centers will give you one, or they will have one built into the screen, but don’t need one.
  • You will be given a pencil and a piece of scratch paper (maybe more...maybe an erasable white board). At the end of the examination, these items must be returned to the proctor.
  • You will have to empty your pockets, turn off your cell phone, and put all of your stuff into a locker before you enter the examination room. Some examination centers do not have provisional space to cater for temporary storage of your items...Just leave everything in your car.
  • Additionally, candidates are not allowed to bring in children, notes, books, backpacks, briefcases, pagers, mobile phones, or hats with them into the examination area.
  • Within the premise of the examination center, eating, drinking or smoking are prohibited.
  • Generally, you may only leave the examination area after the examination has begun and you are seated if you want to use the restroom. Candidates must obtain permission from the proctor before proceeding to use the restroom.
  • Extra time will NEVER be given to any candidate to conclude the examination...Don’t worry about this. You have plenty of time to complete the test, just answer the questions...don’t try to squeeze in a nap.

You will be required to stop the examination immediately, surrender all examination materials, and be excused out of the examination area if:

  1. You are seen to be on the giving or receiving end of assistance
  2. You are found to be in possession of unauthorized materials
  3. You violate any security regulation

All such instances will be communicated to the State Department of Insurance, and may lead to the implicated candidate being denied licensure.

I heard the there are “experimental” questions on the insurance test that do not count towards my final score...Is this true?

Yes. Basically they use you as a guinea pig to test the validity of questions the plan to use on future versions of the exam. In addition to the standard questions, candidates are asked additional “pre-test” questions (typically between 5 and 10). The time expended in answering these questions will not count against the examination time. Also, candidates will not receive scores for these questions. The premise for the use of these non-scored questions of the experimental type is that it helps in developing future licensing examinations.

When will I know if I have passed the exam?

Before you get out of your seat. Your passing score will be displayed on the screen after you have completed the exam. Before you leave the testing center the Proctor will give you an official certificate that (depending on your state) you may or may not need to send in with your insurance license application.

insurance school licensing FAQs©

3. Get Fingerprinted

I understand that I must submit a fingerprint card with my insurance license application. Where do I go to get fingerprinted?

This question is not answerable if we don't know your location, but generally speaking the 3 best places to get fingerprinted are:

  1. Tetsing Center

    Most testing centers offer fingerprinting services, in fact some states require that you get fingerprinted at the testing center immediately after passing your insurance exam. Check out our state specific FAQ pages for details about the fingerprinting process in your state, but with few exceptions getting fingerprinted at the testing center is definitely the most convenient way to satisfy this requirement.

  2. Law Enforcement

    Quite often your local police station will offer fingerprinting services to the general public. Contact them directly before driving over there, it is common that they have very limited hours (maybe something like Wednesday 4-7PM).

  3. UPS Store

    Most, but not all, UPS stores offer fingerprinting service these days. Again contact them first to make sure that location can fingerprint you. Prices vary by location, but generally you pay $7 or $10, which is less than half of what they will charge you at the testing center!

If I pass the insurance pre-license exam am I guaranteed to get an insurance license?

No, you are not. Making it through the pre-license exam and subsequently submitting an application is not a guarantee that an applicant will be issued an insurance license. The issuance of a license is (in part) dependent on the application questions asked pertaining to any civil or criminal proceedings in the past 10 years and/or pending at the time of application. Failure to disclose all criminal convictions and civil proceeding and pending charges (be it a felony or misdemeanor) may result in denial of your application or a revocation of your license after it has been issued.

While there are certain offenses that will statutorily disqualify you from working in the industry, as a general statement we can say..."If you have any 'skeletons in your closet', don't panic." Nobody cares about that shoplifting charge...or that public urination citation from back in college. Applicants with domestic violence and even manslaughter convictions can still get licensed, the key is DISCLOSE EVERYTHING. If it is not financial (fraud, forgery, embezzlement, etc) chances are you will be fine. But if you fail to disclose, now you are lying to the state insurance regulators and your insurance license application will likely be denied.

As an applicant who has had your application rejected, you will receive notification in writing of the reason they do not want you working in the insurance industry.

Can I find out if I will pass the background check before I take the exam?

Currently, insurance license candidates are not permitted to submit a license application to be pre-screened before passing the examination. Criminal history reviews will not be carried out by the Department of Insurance before a license application is submitted. License applications may only be submitted by a candidate after he/she has successfully passed the required exam.

insurance school licensing FAQs©

4. Submit your application

Who issues insurance licenses?

The state Department of Insurance

Insurance is regulated by the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners). Each state has their own Insurance Commissioner and their own DOI (Department of Insurance).

How do I contact MY state Department of Insurance?

Use this handy clickable map to find state specific information (including contact info) about the insurance licensing process.

Can I apply for my insurance license online?

Generally, Yes. Use the map above to find the specifics for your state.

How Long does it take to get my insurance license?

In some states you can walk into the Department of Insurance with your exam results and walk out with a license. Other states might take 2, or, 7, or 10...or 14 days. Use the map above to find the specifics for your state.

How long is my insurance license valid?

Anywhere from 2 to 4 years, depending on the state.

Once licensed, will I have to take Continuing Education classes?

Continuing Ed is another thing that varies by state. It is also a testable concept, make sure you know the CE requirements for your state before you sit for the licensing exam! Use the map above to navigate to the insurance licensing FAQ page for your state and click on the CE requirement FAQ.

insurance school licensing FAQs©

Other Stuff

Do you have any “test tips” or “guessing techniques” for the insurance exam?

Of course we do. Here is the first tip...Study.

Seriously, the exam that you are required to pass before you apply for your insurance license is not hard. The questions on the exam are very entry level. Passing the exam is easy...if you know what to expect!