Insurance licensing in British Columbia is regulated by the Insurance Council of BC. To work as an insurance agent, salesperson, or adjuster in this province, you need to be licensed by this organization, which operates under the mandate of the Financial Institutions Act.

That’s a roundabout way of saying that to pursue a career in the insurance business, you need to pass a few courses first — and you’ll need to put the best interests of your clients first at all times!

A career in insurance can be highly rewarding, both financially and from the satisfaction of giving people the peace of mind that they’ll be taken care of when they need it most.

Let’s take a closer look at insurance licensing in BC, and the paths you can take for a career in insurance:

Basics Of Insurance Licensing

In British Columbia, insurance licensing goes by levels. These include:

Level 1 – General Insurance Salesperson

A General Insurance Salesperson is able to sell and advise on insurance under the supervision of a senior broker.

Level 2 – General Insurance Agent

A General Insurance Agent is able to sell and advise on insurance without the supervision of a senior broker, and can work remotely.

Level 3 – General Insurance Agent Level 3 License

A Level 3 General Insurance Agent License allows you to sell and advise on insurance in a supervisory or management position.

General Insurance – Sole Proprietor

A Sole Proprietor General Insurance License allows you to sell and advise on insurance and act as an agency.

To become an insurance broker in British Columbia, you’ll first need your Level 1 license. This is the foundation on which you’ll build your career in the insurance industry, and there are several ways to reach this goal.

How To Reach Level 1 Certification

A Level 1 license essentially makes you a ‘junior insurance broker’. To attain your license, you can take any of these courses and/or exams:

Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia (IBABC)

  • Fundamentals of Insurance (Multiple choice exam)
  • Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) Exam 1 (A combination of written, multiple choice and matching questions)

Insurance Institute of Canada

  • CIP C11 and C130
  • GIEP C81 and C82

You can also take the equivalent of these exams at several community colleges in BC, including Camosun College in Victoria and Douglas College in New Westminster.

Which Path Do You Take?

IBABC Fundamentals Exam

How you achieve your Level 1 insurance licensing is up to you. The Fundamentals of Insurance exam, offered by IBABC, is considered the “easiest” of these options because it’s simply a book that you read, study, and from, and then you write the exam when you’re ready. It’s straightforward, more affordable than other options, and is often the quickest method to get your Level 1 insurance certification in British Columbia.

Many of the staff here at Harbord Insurance entered the industry using this ‘Fundamentals exam’ method. If you’ve got the discipline, it’s a great start to a career in insurance.

The caveat with getting certified with the Fundamentals exam is that, should you choose to pursue Levels 2 and higher, you will still need to write either the CAIB 1, CIP, or GEIP exams. That means spending extra time and money in order to achieve a higher level license.


Generally speaking, in British Columbia, more brokers pursue the CAIB route to insurance licensing. However, if you intend to work as an insurance adjuster or otherwise fully develop your career in insurance, CIP and GIEP courses tend to transfer better than the CAIB designation. You’ll also want to factor in whether you may want to work in other provinces. In that scenario, the CIP designation would be the best option.

So, here’s the quick version of what we just reviewed:

Try the Fundamentals of Insurance Exam If…

  • You want to ‘get your feet wet’ in insurance
  • You want to save time and money
  • You have the discipline to study on your own

Try the CAIB Exam If…

  • You are ready to commit to a career in insurance
  • You would prefer to get certified through traditional coursework
  • You would prefer initial coursework that is less intense than CIP or GIEP

Try the CIP or GIEP Exam If…

  • You are ready to commit to a career in insurance
  • You would prefer to do your heavy coursework early
  • You may transfer to another province later in your career

Note that the higher you go, the more coursework you’ll need. For example, to reach your Level 3 license, four exams are required if you take the CAIB route. This allows you to manage an insurance brokerage. It’s a lot of work — and for the right person, it’s a lot of fun too!

Insurance Licensing: Your Next Step

If you’d like to pursue a career in insurance, it’s important to consider all of your options. There is really no one ‘right’ way to get your Level 1 license other than to take it seriously, review each option, and pursue the route that makes the most sense for where you are at this stage in your career.

Feel free to reach out to us here at Harbord Insurance if you’d like to learn more about a career in insurance. We’re always happy to have a chat, learn more about your goals, and provide our friendly suggestions on where you might want to start.

Keep an eye on our Careers page for opportunities too!


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