D o you ever wonder why people quit being a life insurance agent? Back in 2018, I took a leap of faith and decided to become a licensed life insurance agent. I was looking for a flexible way to earn more money and possibly bring my husband on board to work with me as well in the side business. Having already been in the finance space for a few years, it seemed like an ideal option to help provide financial education and earn high commission rates.
After passing the state test and obtaining my license, the future looked bright. There was only the looming fact that about 90% of life insurance agents quit within their first year.
I didn’t want to be part of that statistic, so I fought tooth and nail to make life insurance work for me. However, after a little over a year, I ended up quitting and haven’t looked back since. Here’s why I quit being a life insurance agent.
The Truth About Being a Life Insurance Agent Through an MLM
How I became a life insurance agent is a pretty unique story. I didn’t go to a seminar or answer an online job ad. Instead, I met up with a woman for coffee. Since 2016, I’d been a financial writer and decided to join a local women’s business networking group. I met a woman who wanted to meet me for coffee to get to know me better.
We ended up spending about 4 hours at the coffee shop just chatting about all sorts of things. Eventually, the woman asked me if I’d want to join her business. She invited me and my husband to an information meeting at her office and told me the company provided financial education to clients.
Out of curiosity, we went to the meeting and were intrigued. We learned more about how life insurance can protect your loved ones along with how people can actually use it to build wealth. Suddenly, my negative views about whole life insurance policies faded away and I saw the opportunity.
We paid $150 to sign up as independent life insurance agents through the company. The fee was for the app that we’d use to track our earnings as well as the training resources. I got licensed through the state and was ready to start working under the woman who I met with at the coffee shop who would be my ‘upline’.
How MLMs Actually Work
MLM stands for multi-level marketing companies that follow a direct sales strategy. Typically, they provide an opportunity for independent sales agents to sell a product or service and earn a commission. They also encourage you to ‘build a team’ and recruit other people to sell to so you can receive a portion of their commissions as well.
Odds are, you might have a friend or family member involved in an MLM or maybe you’ve joined one before up before. The fact is, like life insurance agents, most people who join an MLM ultimately quit. So, I guess I was taking a huge risk by combining the two.
Sometimes, MLMs are called pyramid schemes which alludes to the fact that the entire system is based on a few people (often at the top of the pyramid) truly finding success and earning higher commissions. Everyone else is said to be faking it until they make it.
What I Liked About Being a Life Insurance Agent
There are a variety of reasons why most life insurance agents quit early on and I thought the company I was working with would help combat some of those obstacles.
I’ve always been passionate about personal finance and helping others learn how to make wise money decisions. The opportunity to sit down with people and explain the benefits of life insurance as well as which options they may want to consider appealing to me.
Right off the bat, I really liked the teamwork and mentorship atmosphere of the office. It was encouraging to see other people building their businesses and supporting each other. I knew that if I had questions about anything, I could ask my upline and they would try to point me in the right direction.
Additional Training Opportunities
There were usually two trainings per week that the entire office got invited to along with longer training sessions on Saturdays a few times per month. Life insurance is a complex topic to master so it’s important to take the time to really learn the business and which types of policies and options you can recommend to clients.
You’re Pushed to Improve Your Mindset
Sales is hard. You’ll face a lot of rejection and doubt yourself but you can either push past that negatively and hopefully experience a breakthrough. Or, you can quit being a life insurance agent and do something else. I’m all about personal development and hard work which this is crucial if you want to make it as a life insurance agent.
What I Didn’t Like About Being a Life Insurance Agent
Life insurance has a much bigger learning curve than I expected. Looking back, I don’t really think I had the time and mental space to take on that responsibility in addition to my writing business.
The Commissions Are a Big IF
You have to sell a lot of life insurance policies and preferably at higher premiums if you want to make more money as an agent. The smaller, $50 to $100 per month policies were still fine, but you’d exhaust yourself trying to make a career out of those sales.
Unless you have some stable financial support, most people have to get into life insurance on the side of a full-time job. You could easily put in a full 40 hours of work and your earnings may not reflect that.
Lots of Cold Calling
If you don’t like sales or cold calling, life insurance may not be for you. In the past, I had a bad experience working at a call center when I had to walk out of the job to protect my mental health.
Once we ran through our list of friends and family who I could talk to about life insurance, I had to start prospecting. As an introvert, it felt weird to always take an activity like going to the store or attending a friend’s gathering and turn it into an opportunity to meet more people who I could potentially sell life insurance to.
I Really Didn’t Want to Build a Team
I realize now that I like working remotely and mainly alone. The pressure to build a team paired with also having to find clients to sell to was strong. My husband and I bought a house shortly after I got licensed and my upline team convinced me to try to recruit some of our housewarming guests to join the company under me. I hated every moment of the presentation and just wanted to enjoy our party.
Shame For Not Performing and Toxic Hustle Culture
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the guilt and shame the company would inflict on others if we failed to perform. If I couldn’t make a Saturday training meeting because I wanted to take my son somewhere instead, I was often made to feel like I wasn’t hustling hard enough to make my dreams a success.
People who would invite guests to our meetings (so they could be convinced to join the team) received praise while the rest of us got scolded for not talking to enough people during the week.
During one of the meetings, one of our mentors wanted to honor an agent who sadly passed away unexpectedly. They mentioned how much of a hard and dedicated worker they were and how they were always in the office striving hard to sell and build their team.
At that moment, I remembered thinking that if I only had a few months to live, I didn’t want to spend it feeling the immense pressure to recruit people in that toxic work atmosphere. I’d rather someone say I spent time with my family and made space for hobbies and genuine connections with others.
Is Being An Insurance Agent Worth It?
After realizing that being a life insurance agent wasn’t for me, I was happy to quit. Agents can enjoy a lucrative career, but it’s not for everyone which is why so many people quit being a life insurance agent. The constant hustle mentality, endless networking, and sales pressure are a burden not everyone can bear. I do believe life insurance is valuable. However, it’s not necessary to push products like annuities and whole life insurance on people who either don’t need them or don’t want them.
My MLM company wanted to make me believe that there’s only one way to become successful and build wealth. I never believed this. Instead, I prefer to continue building my content writing and marketing business while also prioritizing my values since life doesn’t have to be all work and no play.