When people purchase a home, they frequently purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the bank when the buyer does not have a sizable down payment for the property in question. However, PMI does little to protect the buyer. For that protection, the buyer would need mortgage-protection insurance, which pays off the balance of the loan in the event he dies or (in some cases) becomes permanently disabled. Because this can be a lucrative industry, you might want to consider giving your entrepreneurial spirit a taste of it by following these five steps and setting up your own business.

Get licensed. Because mortgage-protection insurance is (obviously) an insurance product, you're going to need a license to sell it. Each state has different requirements for receiving a license, but most require you to pass a written examination. Some states may also require you to complete specific classes or training seminars. These tests can be difficult and expensive, but they are a necessary first step.

Decide what type of agent you want to be. You're not going to be able to set up a store selling your own brand of mortgage-protection insurance. Instead, you'll need to become an agent. That's going to entail making a choice between being an independent or captive agent. Independent agents can sell mortgage-protection-insurance policies for a number of different companies, while captive agents can sell the policies for only one company. If you choose the latter, you're more likely to get help with your licensing costs and training. If you choose the former, you'll have more flexibility in what you offer, and can sometimes attract a broader range of clients.

Get a surety bond. In many states, insurance agents who run their own businesses need to purchase such a bond. This is basically an insurance policy for your clients. If, for example, you were to be unable to fulfill your responsibilities to them, the surety bond would kick in and cover those costs on your behalf. This might happen if you are going out of business or struggling financially. The cost is usually reasonable, but it's an ongoing expense you'll need to pay for your mortgage-protection-insurance business.

Make connections with lenders and real-estate agents. If you're hoping to do well in the industry, you have to start networking with the people who are going to send most of the business your way. Lenders and real-estate agents are the ones most likely to mention your product and your business to potential homeowners. They are going to be a great help in your marketing efforts. If you already know some of these folks from your own work experience, that's great. If not, set up some meetings at banks and at real-estate firms to do some presentations so you can win them over.

Expand your business. Once you have your mortgage-protection-insurance business off and running, consider expanding your offerings to include some related forms of coverage, such as homeowners' insurance or life insurance. You will merely need to pass another licensing exam. (After the first one, the rest seem easier.) Being able to offer more services to your clients will be an asset to your company in the long run.


Keep in mind that most states have separate examinations depending on the type of insurance you want to sell, so be sure to prepare for the correct exam. If you have questions, contact your state's Department of Insurance.