Independent insurance agents, typically sell a variety of insurance and financial products, including property insurance and casualty insurance, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance. Property and casualty insurance agents sell insurance policies that protect individuals and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, storms, and other events that can damage property. For businesses, property and casualty insurance can also cover injured Workers Compensation Insurance, product liability claims, or medical malpractice claims.
Independent insurance agents typically represent a number of insurance companies, and sell the products that most appropriately meet the needs of their clients. Independent agents typically are very well trained and knowledgeable of the complexities of the insurance market and insurance law. Their expertise allows them to advise their clients about appropriate amounts of insurance and insurance coverage for their particular needs.
Knowledge of Hebrew is very important as you need to be willing to study for difficult Hebrew tests, in order to receive your license.
Misrad HaOtzar has a branch that regulates insurance agents and licensing. It’s called Mafakayach HaBituach. (02) 621-1444. Requirements for insurance agents to become licensed in Israel are found at: https://mof.gov.il/en/PublicationsAndReviews/Reports/DocLib1/annualreports_2016-full.pdf
Thanks to Shmuel Weinstein, for participating in this interview (2020).
What is your current position?
I am an independent insurance agent, providing insurance products and solutions for my clients based on their needs and budgets. I work with most of the major Israeli insurance companies, and I provide all types of insurance.
How did you find your job?
I began working as an insurance agent after discussing the matter with a friend who was already in the insurance business for a number of years.
What skills and background do you need, in order to work in this field?
Knowledge of Hebrew is very important. In addition, you will need an Israeli license in order to work as an insurance agent in Israel. In order to obtain the license, you need to pass a Hebrew insurance test given by the Israeli insurance regulator, a governmental agency run by the Ministry of Finance. There are two licensing tests: One test certifies you to market general insurance (such as car, home, business and health insurance), and the other test licenses you to market life insurance, pension insurance and financial plans.
What experience do you need to get into your field?
No experience is needed. Sales and marketing experience would be helpful, as it is a purely sales orientated business.
What degree should someone making Aliyah come with, in order to break into your field?
There is no degree necessary. You just need to pass the licensing test.
What is the salary range in your field?
There is no set salary. It is a commission-based salary, which has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, there is no guaranteed income, and it usually takes quite a bit of time to build up a large enough clientele that will generate the income that you need. On the other hand, once you have a license, there is no limit to how much you can earn, as income is purely based on your sales performance, and practically all the insurance companies will be willing to work with you.
Who are the major employers in your field?
“Providers” is a better word than “employers” — the insurance agent is basically self-employed. Insurance agents are not employees of the companies with which they work; rather, they are independent agents who work with insurance companies with which they have signed work agreement contracts. There are currently 15 insurance companies in Israel, 11 of which work with insurance agents. The other four market their products directly.
Is there a professional organization in your field?
Lishkat Sochnei Bituach B’Yisrael (Association of Insurance Brokers and Agents in Israel). This is an organization that offers its members certain professional services and tries to represent the interests of insurance agents on a national scale.
What recommendations can you offer Olim who are interested in working in this field?
I can offer several recommendations:
- Learn Hebrew.
- Obtain sales and marketing skills.
- Be willing to study for university level Hebrew tests in order to receive your license. While there is no requirement to take courses in order to prepare for the tests, most people do and the process usually takes a few years.
- You will need an alternative source of income until you receive your license and are then able to build up a client base large enough to cover your living expenses. In my opinion, the best way to become an insurance agent is to begin working as a salaried employee in the insurance field, & take courses toward getting your license at the same time.
- Have patience. It takes time to get used to the cultural differences.
Any advice for students looking to go into your field?
Take advantage of the insurance courses that are offered in Israel to learn about insurance and to help prepare you for the licensing exam. Courses are offered by the Lishkat Sochnei Bituach. Information about them is available online at www.insurance.org.il. All of the courses are taught in Hebrew.
How do you feel about working and living here in Israel?
I like living in Israel; I choose to live here and raise a family here for various reasons, all of which are centered around Judaism.
Working here can be difficult because of the cultural differences, and because the taxes are high – high taxes takes away some of the profit incentive. Furthermore, the past few years have seen a tremendous increase in the number of regulations which the Insurance Regulator (the regulatory body which is part of Ministry of Finance) has added, greatly increasing the time it takes, as well as cost, of doing business. On the other hand, there is more of an informal flavor to business in Israel, which I prefer. In addition, I have learned over time and with experience that some of the insurance companies here are more efficient & easier to work with than others – and this makes my job less complicated.
Have a positive attitude. If you start, stick with it!
Shmuel Weinstein is an insurance agent and business owner, see www.israelinsuranceagent.com. If you have further questions, please be in touch with Shmuel at [email protected] or by phone at 050-445-5770.