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Nature of work

An insurance broker (also known as an insurance agent) sells insurance policies to individuals, families, professionals and businesses, in order to protect people against future losses. Insurance brokers select and sell the right policy, so that in the event of future losses (for example, due to death, injury, accidents, natural disasters, fire and theft), the policy holder will receive a payout.

Insurance brokers need to look at the needs of the client, and decide what risks they might face in the future. The insurance broker then needs to select the most suitable policies for the client. Insurance policies can cover car, home, business or property. Policies can also protect families in the event of death or injury, and insurance can also cover hospital and medical costs. On a day-to-day basis, insurance brokers need to sell policies, help clients complete and submit forms, and answer queries, They also update insurance policies and information after the actual sale.

Some insurance brokers visit potential clients at their own home or their place of work. Increasingly, insurance companies are employing brokers to work in call centres, and conduct sales and answer queries over the phone. The benefits of being an insurance broker include helping people to safeguard their future, and the challenge of successfully making sales. However, selling insurance can be very competitive, and at times brokers are also required to work long hours.

Personal qualities

An insurance broker should:

  • be ambitious, enthusiastic and motivated
  • have a real interest in people and be able to get along with others
  • have good communication skills
  • have excellent sales and marketing skills

Job opportunities

The majority of opportunities for employment are with insurance companies. Working for an insurance brokerage firm is another option, and some insurance brokers are self-employed, and work as a freelance agent or broker. An increase in call centres means that call centre agents are popular. However, with the rise of the internet, it is possible that a lot of insurance brokerage may happen over the internet, rather than in person.

Career path

There are a variety of ways to be trained to become an insurance broker. These can range from in-house training to completing a degree. You will also be required to register with Financial Services Board (FSB), which includes criteria for personal character (integrity and honesty), education and training, competence and operational ability. Bursaries to study insurance specifically are relatively uncommon, but universities may offer their own general bursaries, and funding for BCom degrees is more widely available. Insurance companies may also fund certain training for their employees.

Bursary Register

Salary range

Salaries for insurance brokers are reasonable, but in many cases these may be commission driven (based on the number of sales made), so they can vary from month to month. Salaries can range from around R5000 per month to R25 000. Average salaries are around R14 000.

Educational Qualifications

Required school subjects: English, Maths
There are a lot of different ways to become an insurance broker, and no specific qualifications are needed. Training for insurance brokers is frequently done by the company before actual sales work starts, and will probably last a few weeks to a few months. This can be a good option, as it saves on the cost of studying. A matric is usually required, or else an NQF level 4 matric equivalent in insurance can be done through the Insurance Institute of South Africa (ISSA).

Another path to working in insurance is to get a diploma in insurance or a similar field, or to do a BCom degree in either general business information, management, insurance, investment management, investments or risk management. It is a government requirement that all insurance brokers must meet Financial Advisory Intermediary Services (FAIS) requirements and also register with the FSB, which may require additional training. This training is frequently covered by employers.

Diplomas and degrees in insurance can be studied at the following institutions:

Diplomas:
  • National: UNISA; IISA in conjunction with the Academy of Learning
  • Gauteng: TUT; UJ; VUT
  • Eastern Cape: NMMU;
  • Free State: CUT; UFS
  • KwaZulu-Natal: DUT;
  • Western Cape: CPUT

Degrees:

  • National: UNISA
  • Gauteng: UJ; Wits
  • Eastern Cape: NMMU
  • Free State: UFS
  • North West: NWU
  • Western Cape: UWC

Related careers

  • accountant
  • actuary
  • advertising
  • banking careers
  • employment agent
  • estate agent
  • financial adviser
  • market researcher
  • marketing manager
  • sales manager
  • sales representative

Links and addresses

South African Insurance Association, P.O. Box 30619, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2017. Tel: 011 726 5381, E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Website: www.saia.co.za
Insurance Institute of South Africa, P.O. Box 413264, Craighall, 2024. Tel: 0861 000 4472, Website: www.iisa.co.za