What Does a Livestock Insurance Agent Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
Livestock insurance agents provide insurance policies to cover the animals owned by their clients, who are usually farmers or ranchers. A variety of coverage options are available, including individual coverage for specific high-value animals, blanket coverage for both property and animals, and herd coverage, which is the most common option and ensures a designated number of animals of a particular type.
Agents may offer coverage for various kinds of livestock, including dairy cattle, beef cattle, poultry, sheep, and pigs. Agents can choose to focus on one kind of livestock, but most offer services for multiple types. They can also branch out into other segments of the industry by offering lines of aquaculture insurance, equine insurance, or pet insurance. Many livestock insurance agents also offer coverage options for properties (such as farms and ranches) and vehicles.
A livestock insurance agent can advance their career over time by moving into roles such as regional sales manager or sales director. An agent might also become a partner in an established insurance agency or start an independent agency after building a sufficient loyal client base.
Livestock Insurance Agent Duties & Responsibilities
This job generally requires the ability to do the following tasks:
- Collect data from livestock producers.
- Provide rate quotes.
- Explain coverage options.
- Process insurance forms.
- Coordinate with underwriters.
- Handle claims.
- Obtain appraisals as needed.
- Provide quality customer service.
Livestock insurance agents move easily between interacting with customers and carrying out the office-based aspects of their job. They meet existing customers' needs, including paying out claims, while competently fulfilling the duties that bring in revenue and profits for the firm that employs them, including gaining additional clients.
Livestock Insurance Agent Salary
A livestock insurance agent's salary varies based on the number of clients served each year, the types of insurance coverage sold, and the geographic area in which an agent works. The compensation package for an agent is often some combination of base salary, commissions, and performance bonuses.
- Median Annual Salary: $50,600 ($24.33/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $125,610 ($60.39/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $27,500 ($13.22/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
Note that these figures are for the broad category of insurance agents, not just livestock insurance agents.
Livestock insurance agents may spend money marketing their services to prospective clients, including print and web-based ads, as well as for travel to trade shows or livestock events to recruit new customers.
Education, Training, & Certification
Most insurance agencies prefer that job candidates have a four-year college degree, though they tend to be flexible with regard to the major. A license to sell insurance in a particular state is required, and many states mandate continuing education (CE) coursework to retain that license.
- Degree: Varied courses in areas such as marketing, communications, accounting, animal science, economics, business, technology, and statistics can prepare the aspiring agent for the challenges they will face as they enter the industry.
- Licensing: An aspiring agent must become licensed to sell property and casualty insurance in the state where they intend to offer their services. Specific licensing requirements for insurance agents vary by state, but the prerequisites generally involve attending training courses and seminars, passing a state licensing exam, and paying a fee. In most states, aspiring agents must get fingerprinted and pass a criminal background check.
- Continuing Education: Many states also have a CE requirement that must be fulfilled before agents can renew their licenses. This requirement ensures agents are up-to-date on any changes in their state's insurance laws. A certain number of CE hours is often devoted to ethics.
Livestock Insurance Agent Skills & Competencies
The skills necessary to become a livestock insurance agent can be found frequently in job listings, on resumes, and in cover letters.
- Persistence: Insurance agents of all types have to make a lot of sales calls and inevitably experience a lot of rejection. Agents must be persistent if they're going to build up a client base.
- Outgoing in nature: All good salespeople, including insurance agents, must have outgoing personalities. They must be unafraid to approach total strangers with a sales pitch.
- Experience working with livestock: It's essential for livestock insurance agents to be comfortable around the usually large animals their customers need coverage for. Prior experience working as a livestock breeder, appraiser, or judge or as an agricultural extension agent would be a big plus.
Livestock insurance remains a strong segment of the larger livestock industry, as farmers must safeguard their herds and flocks against catastrophic losses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of sales agents of all types of insurance will grow 10% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all professions.
Livestock insurance agents typically split their time between an office and the farms and ranches where their clients raise their animals. They may work on their own or for an agency or large company.
Insurance agents usually work about 40 hours a week. They may need to be available evenings and weekends if customers would like to meet with them outside normal business hours.
How to Get the Job
To make connections in the industry, prospective agents can attend events hosted by trade groups, such as the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents.
Check the websites of specific insurance agencies and companies for job openings, which will likely be on a designated Careers page. You can also find opportunities on job sites like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in being a livestock insurance agent might also consider the following careers. The figures given are median annual salaries.
- Insurance Underwriter: $69,380
- Personal Financial Advisor: $88,890
- Real Estate Broker and Sales Agent: $50,300
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018