Insurance is big business, but with so many laws and regulations surrounding the industry, how do you break in? In Michigan, if you want to start an insurance company, you have to become a licensed agent in the type of insurance you want to sell by completing a series of insurance courses and exams. You will also need to decide how you will approach your business set-up and meet the requirements that pertain to your business type.
Become a licensed insurance agent. The Financial and Insurance Regulation Division of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG) is in charge of agent licensing. To become a licensed agent, you will need to complete state-approved insurance courses and exams, though the type and number of courses you need to complete depend on the type of insurance you want to sell. The DELEG website maintains an up-to-date list of accepted courses and current course requirements. After completing the courses, you will then need to file the appropriate licensing application for your insurance field, which are also available online.
Decide how to structure your insurance company. Starting a true insurance company–one in which you underwrite all of your policies yourself–requires a significant amount of start-up capital and is very difficult for a single agent to do. The road most insurance providers take is to either start a franchise office of a national insurance brand or to start a business as an independent agent, developing a relationship with several different larger insurance companies and matching customers to the best policies from that pool of providers. Michigan state insurance law determines the products you can offer to your customers, but there may be other regulations you have to adhere to as well. If you decide to open a franchise, the parent company will require an initial investment, and you will have to meet the franchise qualification guidelines. These guidelines differ among companies, but typically involve things such as credit history and a specific number of years of experience as an agent. If you decide to start an independent insurance business, you will need to make contacts with providers, which may be hesitant to work with you unless you have a track record in the business, such as a good work history as an employee with another insurance company.
Set up your insurance company. Start by filing an incorporation, sole proprietorship or partnership request with the state. You can complete this on the Michigan Business One Stop website run by the state government. You will then need to apply for a license to do business as an insurance company in Michigan, which you can do online using the National Insurance Producer Registry or by downloading a paper application from the DELEG website. You may need additional forms, depending on how you structure your business. You can contact the DELEG at (517) 373-0220 or firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance for more information.
Insurance law is complex, so consult with the DELEG or a lawyer if you need help in setting up your business.