Can a Bad Driving Record Keep You From Becoming an Insurance Agent?
It’s never been a better time to become an independent insurance agent. But when your driving record isn’t great, do you still have a chance?
The truth is that anyone can become an insurance producer with the right preparation. This article walks you through what to expect from a background check and how to get started as a successful agent when you have a bad record.
Do Insurance Professionals Need a Background Check?
Almost every insurance company includes a background check as part of the job application. The purpose is to verify import information about you, such as:
- Identity (you are who you say you are)
- Residence (you’re a legal resident of a given state)
- Education (you graduated from where you say you did)
- Financial history (your credit report, tax liens, etc.)
Most of this information is straightforward, though the “character check” is more complicated. The background check agency typically will search local, state, and FBI databases for criminal history—including any traffic violations that resulted in a felony or misdemeanor.
Before applying for a job as an insurance producer, make sure to check your credit report and driving record ahead of time so that you can address any errors (they happen more than you think). Under federal law, you have the right to a free copy of your credit report once per year. Check your state DMV for instructions on how to get a copy of your driving record.
What Happens if You Have a Bad Driving Record?
If you notice any violations on your driving record, the good news is that you may still be able to become an insurance professional. What happens next depends on what kind of violation you have.
Can You Become an Insurance Agent With A Traffic Ticket?
We all make mistakes when driving, and no one will fault you for the occasional parking or speeding ticket. These aren’t automatically criminal violations and won’t show up in your criminal record.
Can You Become an Insurance Agent With a Traffic Misdemeanor?
Minor parking and speeding tickets might not show up on your record, but that won’t be the case if you were charged with a traffic misdemeanor. While traffic misdemeanors do show up on criminal background checks, they’re usually not a cause for concern.
Common traffic misdemeanor violations include:
- First-time DUI
- Reckless driving
- Unlawfully using an Accessible Parking tag
- Driving with a suspended or expired license
For a full and accurate list of traffic misdemeanors, check your state DMV.
Can You Become an Insurance Agent With a Traffic Felony?
Felonies represent the most serious types of crimes, and they always appear on criminal background checks. Traffic felonies are very likely to hurt your application, but it’s still possible to become an insurance producer with a felony.
Examples of traffic felony violations include:
- Vehicular homicide
- Fleeing an accident scene (hit-and-run)
- Repeated violations of minor traffic violations within a short period of time
How to Become an Insurance Professional When You Have a Bad Driving Record
If you’ve been charged with a traffic felony, don’t hide it on your job application. It’ll still come up in your background check, and you won’t get the job. You’ll also risk losing your insurance license for knowingly providing false information.
Check Your Driving Record
If you have any misdemeanors on your driving record, remember that they can become felonies if you’re charged with the same violation. For example, if you’re repeatedly caught driving without insurance (even after fulfilling your SR-22 insurance requirement), you’ll likely be charged with a felony. In this case, you would want to make sure that you always have an active insurance policy while you drive to avoid a potential traffic felony.
Be Honest About Your Driving Record
A traffic felony is likely to stand out on your job application—and not in a good way. Rather than waiting for the hiring managers to notice the violation and make their own assumptions, be proactive. Always provide a brief note in your application explaining the charge and why the reviewers don’t have to worry about the situation happening again. For instance, if you were charged with a DUI 20 years ago but have been sober since then, the reviewer may decide to move forward with your application.
Keep in mind that some states have specific regulations about crimes that make someone ineligible to work as an insurance producer—your state Department of Insurance can provide more information. But in most cases, insurance companies are willing to let you explain your criminal record before making a decision.
What Else Can Affect Your Job Application to Become an Insurance Producer?
Your driving record is an important part of the background check, but there are other parts of it that an insurance company will take into account when you submit your job application.
Besides your criminal background, your credit score plays an important role. Any large debts, foreclosures, or bankruptcies will work against you on your application. Other financial obligations such as unpaid child support or alimony, tax liens, and collection accounts will jump out to the hiring managers.
The best way to improve your credit score before applying is to pay down as much debt as possible. If this isn’t an option for you, explain to the hiring managers how becoming an agent will help you get on track to improve your finances.
Also, remember that your credit score can affect how much you pay for insurance. Bad credit could be a reason for a higher premium.
For Insurance Producers with a Bad Record, Honesty is the Best Policy
Never lie on your application. Insurance companies review applicants very closely, and chances are that the truth will come out eventually. And when it does, you won’t just lose your job.
If you’re caught knowingly providing false information on your application, the insurance company may notify your insurance agent licensing organization—in other words, you risk losing your insurance agent qualifications. Depending on the insurance license requirements of the organization, you might be banned from being an insurance professional for a set number of years—or possibly for life.
Look Into Becoming an Insurance Agent Today
Life is complicated, and everyone deserves a second chance. At Bluefire Insurance, we help professionals all over the country realize their potential to become successful insurance producers, even when their driving record is less than perfect. To learn more, get in touch with us today or give us a call at (866) 424 9511.
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