Insurance agents who are not on salary receive commissions or a percentage from the company for insurance policy sales. An insurance agent works for one company or is an independent agent working for several companies at the same time. The independent agent survives on commissions; the captive agent working for a single company receives office and advertising assistance in addition to the commission. Insurance commission percentages depend on the kind of insurance, the company, the agent and other variables including steps or ladders for agents with seniority. No industry standards for producer commissions exist.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for insurance agents in 2008 was $45,430. Some agents start out with a guaranteed salary and progress to commission only as renewals increase the commission income. Commission payments include commissions, contingent commissions and other compensation. The insurance industry is evolving to include greater Internet use, reports the Insurance Information Institute in 2011. Commission recommendations are company decisions for regions or states, often restricted to the current year.
States make laws regulating the sale and enforcement of insurance policies, and some states attempt to regulate the commissions paid to insurance agents. The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents responded to regulation and efforts to ban commissions, yearly bonuses or incentive compensation in 2007. New York has aggressively pursued commission disclosure; Regulation 194 requires disclosure of some commission information at the time of the sale of an insurance policy. Additionally, the insured can request more information within 30 days of the sale. Insurance commissions are so complex that agents use tracking software to keep up with payments.
Health and Life Insurance
Aetna requires that agents explain producer compensation in writing before enrolling a group for a health insurance plan. In 2011, Aetna made the compensation percentage by state for small group health insurance available on its website. As an example, the Texas producer receives 5 percent commission on small group medical and 9 percent on dental, with an extra 1 percent when sold together. Small group life with accidental death and disability coverage gives the producer 15 percent commission in Texas.
Travelers Insurance discloses base commissions on new homeowner’s insurance policies at 14 percent to 19 percent of the premium, with an average of 17.6 percent. Renewal homeowner’s insurance commissions show between 13 percent and 20 percent, with an average of 17.4 percent. The Travelers agent receives reimbursed expenses for attendance at meetings and other supplemental income. In comparison, Chartis shows broker and independent agent compensation for new business homeowners insurance between 10 and 25 percent in 2010.
Auto insurance commission percentage is lower with online sales. J.D. Power and Associates reported in 2011 that 54 percent of auto insurance shoppers got quotes online before contacting an agent, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Travelers agents receive commission on personal automobile insurance at 10 percent to 14 percent with an average of 13 percent. Renewal commissions are 7 percent to 14 percent, with an average of 12.7 percent. An additional fixed value-based commission for some auto policies adds an average of 2.5 percent for the most recent calculations available. Travelers provides business production incentives and promotional expense reimbursements in addition to the commission percentages. Commercial auto commissions range from 10.5 percent to 20 percent with an average of 15.2 percent for both new and renewal commercial auto policies. Chartis Insurance shows auto liability producers receive 8 percent to 25 percent for new business and 7 to 23 percent for renewals in 2010.
2016 Salary Information for Insurance Sales Agents
Insurance sales agents earned a median annual salary of $49,990 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, insurance sales agents earned a 25th percentile salary of $35,500, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $77,140, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 501,400 people were employed in the U.S. as insurance sales agents.
- National Association of Professional Insurance Agents; Broker Disclosure of Compensation; Donna L. Pile; March 2007
- Travelers: Producer Compensation Disclosure -- Personal Insurance Homeowners
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011 -- Insurance Sales Agents
- Insurance Information Institute; Buying Insurance -- Evolving Distribution Channels; June 2011
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Insurance Sales Agents
- Career Trend: Insurance Sales Agents
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Insurance Agent: Pay." Accessed Mar. 20, 2020.
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "How to Choose an Insurance Agent." Accessed Mar. 20, 2020.
- LifeInsuranceBlog. "How Do Insurance Agents Get Paid?" Accessed Mar. 20, 2020.
- Securities Training Corporation. "How Much Does An Insurance Agent Make?" Accessed Mar. 20, 2020.
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "State Licensing Handbook 2018," Page 5. Accessed Mar. 20, 2020.
Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.