Real Estate Institute – Your All-in-One stop for Insurance Pre-Licensing in Illinois

Yes, the rumors are true. Real Estate Institute has expanded our roster of educational offerings. So, not only can you now obtain pre-licensing for Life & Health insurance, but with our prior offering of Property & Casualty, you can consider us your All-in-One stop for your insurance aspirations, offering ALL lines of authority.

A career in insurance means flexibility, unlimited earning potential and the opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life. On top of that, entry into the profession is fairly easy. Once you study and pass the exam, you can begin selling insurance instantly. No college degree or prior experience is required, unlike most finance-related positions. So, if you’ve recently had a significant life change or are interested in making a career move, insurance is hands down one that is worth exploring.

What’s Required?

An insurance producer license is required before doing any of the following activities to begin making money in Illinois:

  • Selling insurance.
  • Encouraging someone to purchase insurance.
  • Negotiating the terms or conditions of an insurance product.
  • Advising about insurance.

To become licensed as an insurance producer, a person must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Complete the required pre-licensing education.
  • Pass the applicable state exam(s).
  • Pay the applicable licensing fees.
  • Have a level of character acceptable to the Department of Insurance (DOI). (There are several cases where a licensing application can be denied, such as when someone has committed a felony, failed to pay child support, had a license revoked in another state, etc.)

As an insurance agent, you help people prepare for:

  • Future retirement  
  • College for loved ones    
  • Succeeding in financial goals.
  • Brace for any major financial loss.
  • Unfortunate events, as they can’t always be avoided. 

With that said, are you interested in insurance but not necessarily all four major lines of authority? No problem! At Real Estate Institute, you can take our pre-licensing course for Life & Health as a standalone, as well as Property & Casualty.  

Why Choose Real Estate Institute?

We’re an established leader in insurance education in Illinois. If you’re still unsure, we’ll lay out the facts:

  • Our life and health program is perfect for anyone looking to sell life insurance, annuities, major medical insurance, disability insurance and more.
  • Our All-in-One package is perfect for anyone looking to sell practically all kinds of insurance, including life, health, property and casualty.
  • The insurance licensing process is intimidating. Approximately 40 percent of people who attempt the Illinois insurance licensing exams don’t pass. With us, we will help you prepare for the exam with confidence.
  • Our insurance pre-licensing courses are by Illinois insurance producers for Illinois insurance producers. Our materials were created with attention to Illinois insurance laws and rules. We’ve reviewed the topics found on the Illinois licensing exam outlines, and we cover all of them in appropriate detail.
  • Our instructors are skilled public speakers who can explain complex topics comfortably, and practically. They’ll communicate the need-to-know information in an exciting and engaging way without subjecting you to confusing legalese.

If that wasn’t enough, our comprehensive textbooks include essential study tools, such as extensive glossaries and helpful charts. The 100+ practice questions will help you test your comprehension of the material prior to attempting the final exam.

Read what the alumni who have taken our insurance courses are saying:

  • “The study material was excellent and relevant to the business of insurance. The material was easy to understand and provided a great deal of knowledge on the different courses. I would recommend the Real Estate Institute to my fellow insurance agents.” – Willie
  • Always get great service from Real Estate Institute. Best company for me for study materials and exams for my Real Estate License & Insurance License. Longtime customer. Never had an issue. Very helpful and professional team.” – Daniel
  • “Anytime I had a question or concern Real Estate Institute answered my questions when I would call to get an answer. Also, that they mail the workbook to my home when my insurance license would be coming up for renewal.” – Donna
  • “Good service. Professional. Prepared me for insurance exams.” – James

Read what more of our alumni are saying via Trustpilot.

Enroll today in our All-in-One package for Insurance Pre-Licensing that includes Life, Health, Property and Casualty courses. If you have any questions, please give us a call at 800-995-1700 or visit us online and enroll with us today! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay up to date with course offerings, news and discounts! #ChooseREI


Insurance Prelicensing - Property and Casualty | Blog Post

How to Launch Your Career in Illinois Insurance

Selling insurance in the state of Illinois provides many with financially stable and fulfilling careers. The landscape of Finance & Industry is evolving, and insurance agents are in demand. Continue reading to explore not only why this career is alluring to many, but how to get started yourself.

Why become an insurance agent?

Many who enter this field are deeply personable professionals with a desire to help others. They are folks who enjoy connecting with clients, protecting them and ensuring their livelihoods against the unknowns. In addition, many enter a career in insurance due to the:

  • Easy of Entry
  • Flexibility
  • Financial Security

Easy of Entry 

There are very few barriers to becoming a seller of insurance – which is all part of what makes it such an advantageous career move. Essentially all you need is your will to learn, time to invest, and a passion for seeing the training through.

So, how long does it take to become an insurance agent? Becoming an insurance agent can take someone several weeks or a few months – it depends entirely upon the individual. 

All insurance agents must complete the required pre-licensing education from a state-approved education provider before sitting for and passing their state licensing exam. It is important to note that while the common term in the industry for this career is insurance “agent,” the actual license issued by the Department of Insurance is an insurance producer.

Real Estate Institute offers the required 20 hours of pre-licensing education per each line of authority – or type – of insurance you wish to sell. 

Real Estate Institute’s state-approved Property and Casualty licensing program is perfect for anyone in Illinois interested in selling:

  • homeowners insurance
  • auto insurance
  • liability insurance
  • commercial property insurance 
  • and more

Flexibility

The insurance industry has proven to be a stable source of income for many – especially during the 2020 pandemic. While many sectors struggled to find the balance between remote work and productivity – insurance thrived. 

So much so that employers are now actively seeking out insurance producers who are willing to work remotely.

And the best part? It appears the transition to remote work has improved the efficacy and satisfaction between clients and their insurance agents. Recent research from McKinsey revealed that:

“69% of customers felt their interactions with insurers were more efficient when compared with pre-covid interactions.”

What it looks like to be an insurance agent is changing – possibly for the better. We are moving towards a more digital interface with less frequent but more impactful actions. This paradigm shift only adds to the flexibility of this career. You can excel while working from any location, engage flexible work hours when possible, and boost your client satisfaction in the process. 

Financial Stability

“Unlimited earning potential.” An often-heard phrase that always causes ears to perk up.  With the ease of entry and flexible scheduling, what you earn as an insurance agent is primarily up to you. This career is driven and self-directed. 

While the salary can vary by location, Monster recently reported that some insurance salespeople earn more than $92,000 per year.

So when you’re asking yourself, “How much do insurance agents make?” The answer, in part, depends on where you live and how driven you are. They sky’s the limit!  Real Estate Institute supports Illinois agents and will prepare you to maximize your earnings.

How to Become an Insurance Agent in Illinois

It all starts with education. As mentioned, you must complete the state-mandated educational requirements before taking your state licensing exam. 

For a more in-depth look at how you get from pre-licensing education to licensed sellers of insurance, read this recent blog from the Real Estate Institute team.

And an exciting announcement: In addition to Property and Casualty, Real Estate Institute will soon offer Life and Health Prelicensing programs which will further your line of authority options and ultimately increase your earning potential.

Onto a Promising Future

Entering a new career is a huge decision – and we hope that this article has given you some resources to make an informed decision about becoming an insurance agent in Illinois. 

After all, “the U.S. insurance industry employed 2.8 million people in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Of those, 647,000 were Property and Casualty insurers.”

This career path is in demand, stable, and one that you can enter within a matter of weeks. If you’re ready for a change or seeking new career options, consult with our team of insurance enrollment professionals online or at 800-995-1700 with any questions about insurance education or licensing requirements.

How to Get Your Insurance License in Illinois

With our recent winter storms and the property damage that have befallen many Illinois residential and business owners, there’s sure to be an avalanche of insurance claims and inquiries in the coming weeks and months. It’s yet another reminder that insurance will always be necessary and in demand. A new career path in insurance can provide job and financial stability for the people who sell it.

To sell insurance in Illinois, you need to get licensed, which happens at the state level. Although people who sell insurance are sometimes known in casual conversation as “agents,” “brokers” or “salespeople,” they are all known as “producers” for licensing purposes. There are four steps to becoming a licensed insurance producer in Illinois.

Step 1: Meet the Age Requirement

Licensing candidates must be at least 18 years old.

Step 2: Complete Pre-Licensing Education

You must complete 20 hours of pre-licensing education for each major type of insurance that you wish to sell. In general, these types, known as “lines of authority,” are property, casualty, life, and accident/health. The Illinois Insurance Code requires that each 20-hour pre-license course include at least 7.5 hours of in-person (classroom) instruction. However, the governor has issued an Executive Order that allows webinars through March 6, 2021.  The order has a history of being extended on a month-to-month basis.

Real Estate Institute can help you launch a successful career in the insurance industry. Our state-approved property and casualty licensing program is perfect for anyone who is interested in selling homeowners insurance, auto insurance, liability insurance, commercial property insurance and more. 

Step 3: Take State Exam(s)

Licensing candidates must take (and pass) a state insurance licensing exam for each desired line of authority.

Prepare for the state exams with confidence. Our pre-licensing program will help you pass the exams the first time so you can get on with a new career quickly.

Information about the state exam(s), can be found in the Pearson VUE Candidate Handbook & Outline.

Step 4: Apply Online for Your License(s)

After passing the state licensing exam(s), you must wait five days. At that time, you will be able to apply for your license online at www.nipr.com. Directions to help you with the online application process are available from the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Why Become a Property & Casualty Insurance Producer?

  • Enjoy Helping People. You will be a valuable resource by helping clients match their needs to a policy that will protect them from financial loss.
  • Unlimited Earnings Potential. Whether it’s solely commission or a combination of commission and salary, the amount you earn is based typically on how much you sell.
  • Getting Started is Easy. Sign up for our pre-licensing program, pass the state exams and you’re on your way to your new career.

Why not learn about what a career in insurance can offer you? Just think, if you enroll in pre-licensing education now, you can get licensed and begin working in a matter of weeks! Get started today.


For over 25 years, Real Estate institute has been a local leader in insurance continuing education approved by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Thousands of Illinois insurance producers complete webinar, classroom and self-study continuing education courses each year. Due to popular demand, Real Estate Institute now offers
insurance pre-licensing education
 for anyone looking to start or expand their insurance career. Please don’t hesitate to contact us online or at 800-995-1700 with any questions about insurance education and requirements.


Are COVID-19 Losses Covered by Insurance?

Coronavirus surgical mask doctor wearing face protective mask against corona virus banner panoramic medical professional preventive gear.

Along with the obvious public health concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic raises several questions about insurance. Will my health insurer cover testing? Can my business make a claim for lost income?

Although the answers from carriers, regulators and courts might change as the situation evolves, here’s how some of the most common insurance products are expected to respond to coronavirus-related losses.

Health Insurance

Federal and state governments will pay for lab tests associated with COVID-19. However, hospitals might charge their own fees for collecting specimens and can pass those expenses along to consumers. For health plans regulated by the Illinois Department of Insurance, emergency care from an out-of-network provider (including ambulatory services and hospital care) must be billed as if it were from an in-network provider. Similarly, patients at an in-network facility who are treated by an out-of-network provider can’t be charged higher copayments (assuming no qualified in-network provider is available at the facility). In an effort to promote social distancing, telehealth services from medical providers must be covered as if they were part of an in-office visit.

Life Insurance

Purchasers of life insurance may have been asked to disclose recent travel to other countries. If a consumer misrepresented this information on an application and contracted a terminal case of COVID-19 while in a high-risk area, the insurer might be able to deny death benefits. Otherwise, life insurance policies generally don’t have exclusions that would pertain to the present crisis. Policies with a cash-value component might decrease in value due to the pandemic’s impact on the economy but are usually subject to a minimum guarantee.

Workers Compensation

Workers compensation insurance pays for medical care and a portion of lost wages when an employee becomes injured or ill as a result of his or her job duties. Although eligibility differs by state, compensation for illnesses generally only applies when job duties or work environments made employees significantly more susceptible to illness than the general population. Historically, for example, ill workers have received benefits after being exposed to hazardous chemicals but not when catching the flu from a co-worker. Whereas most workers are unlikely to qualify for workers compensation due to COVID-19, hospital workers (and perhaps grocery store employees) might qualify due to their elevated exposure. Time will tell.

Commercial General Liability Insurance

This insurance is intended to respond when a member of the public is harmed by a business’s work or by unsafe conditions at an insured location. Although some coverage might exist if a customer were to contract the virus from someone at a business, it’s possible that the insurance would only respond in cases of negligence (such as a business continuing to remain open to the public after being ordered to close). Although some policies might provide benefits regardless of fault, those amounts are generally limited to no more than a few thousand dollars.

Business Interruption Insurance

This insurance compensates businesses for lost income and extra expenses when they’re forced to shut down through no fault of their own (including by emergency order of the government). Unfortunately for policyholders, coverage is typically dependent on “direct physical loss” or damage to property, such as a fire at either the insured’s business or a neighboring building. Interruptions that result in lost income but aren’t caused by a “direct physical loss” or property damage are generally excluded. Although COVID-19-related lawsuits have already been filed against insurers based on this language, carriers might still be able to deny claims based on other parts of the policy. For example, since the early 2000s, most business interruption policies specifically exempt losses due to viruses and bacteria.

As in all cases regarding claims, policy language can differ from product to product and carrier to carrier. Insurance professionals should carefully read the applicable coverage forms before advising the public about a specific loss.


Real Estate institute offers insurance continuing education approved by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Thousands of Illinois insurance producers complete our webinar, classroom and self-study continuing education courses each year. 

Insurance Ethics Webinars Now Approved and Available

business hand typing on a laptop keyboard with Webinar homepage on the computer screen learning internet website web page concept.After nearly a decade of asking, Illinois insurance producers can finally complete their 3-hour ethics continuing education requirement via webinar. The bill allowing for ethics webinars was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on August 14, 2018, and the Department of Insurance began approving webinars from course providers (including Real Estate Institute) a few weeks ago.

Although the new law provides a new method of ethics course delivery for insurance producers, the change is not applicable to public adjusters. According to the DOI, licensed Illinois public adjusters must still earn 3 hours of ethics credit by attending a live, in-person class.

The law also creates an education advisory council that will be charged with making recommendations to the state about insurance courses, curriculum and instructor qualifications.

To view Real Estate Institute’s extensive schedule of ethics webinars and in-person classes, click here.

Illinois Doubles “Credit Reporting Fee” for Insurance CE Hours

Up-Arrow-BlueEffective March 2, the state-mandated fee for reporting Illinois insurance continuing education credit hours to the appropriate licensing authorities has increased from 50 cents per hour to $1 per hour. The fee is intended, in part, to fund online licensing services available through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ “State Based Systems” website, www.statebasedsystems.com. Producers can use the site to review their licensing information, monitor their remaining CE requirements, find approved education providers and more.

Real Estate institute offers insurance education approved by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Thousands of Illinois insurance producers complete our classroom and self-study continuing education courses each year. All state-mandated fees are required upon enrollment. State fees are subject to change without notice. We encourage students to complete courses promptly to avoid further fee increases.

Renewing Your Illinois Insurance Producer License? Better Check Your Email

Business-woman-running-with-clockIf you’re like most insurance producers in Illinois, you probably don’t give your continuing education requirements much thought until you receive a license renewal notice from the state. For years, notifications have gone out in the mail and have given insurance professionals a helpful reminder regarding when to complete CE and how to renew their license.

Well, not anymore.

Effective Nov. 5 of last year, the Department of Insurance stopped sending hard-copy renewal notices to licensees. Instead of a mailed reminder, renewal notices will be emailed to whatever email address a producer has on file with the DOI.

Don’t let this change in departmental procedures impact your ability to do business! Consider taking the following steps to make your next renewal as simple as possible:

  1. Complete your continuing education sooner rather than later. As a reminder, producers in Illinois must complete 24 hours of continuing education (including 3 hours of in-class ethics training) in order to renew their license. (Additional requirements exist for producers who sell long-term care insurance.)
  2. Verify that your email address is correct. Producers can confirm, add or change their email address by visiting the National Insurance Producer Registry online at www.nipr.com.

If you’ve completed the entire 24-credit-hour CE requirement on or before your license expiration date, follow these on-time renewal instructions.

If you’re renewing your license after your expiration date, follow this link for details about reinstating your license.


Real Estate Institute is an Illinois-approved insurance continuing education provider that offers a wide range of self-study courses and thought-provoking ethics classes. Our team of knowledgeable customer service representatives is here to assist you with all of your CE needs. Contact us to enroll today!

7 Facts Insurance Producers Need To Know About Annuity Training

Retirement_Rocker
Before they can sell, solicit or recommend annuity products to the public, Illinois insurance producers must complete a state-approved annuity training course. However, we continue to hear from students who were unaware of this important state rule. Keep reading to learn more about how to stay in compliance with this requirement.

  1. What kind of course do I need?
    The course must be at least 4 hours in length and can be completed in any format (classroom, self-study, etc.) that is acceptable to the Department of Insurance. Real Estate Institute’s 4-Hour NAIC Annuity Suitability Training course contains all the state-mandated topics and has been approved to help producers satisfy this requirement. Students who complete our course will also receive 4 hours of continuing education credit.
  2. Is there an exemption for people who have already been selling annuities for several years?
    The Illinois rules don’t have any “grandfather” exemption. The requirement applies equally to all producers regardless of when they first became licensed.
  3. I only sell fixed/variable/indexed annuities? Does the rule apply to me?
    The training must be completed regardless of whether a producer sells fixed, variable or indexed annuities. Although there are exemptions for producers who only sell certain types of annuity products, those exemptions are for a very small segment of the annuity market. Most Illinois producers won’t qualify for them.
  4. I’m new to the annuity business. Is this course all I need in order to start selling annuity products?
    In addition to completing a 4-hour training course, individuals who want to sell annuities in Illinois must have a life insurance license.In the case of variable annuities, an individual must also be licensed to sell “variable products.” In order to earn the variable-product licensing designation, a producer must complete all necessary securities licensing procedures and become registered with a national organization called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
  5. Do I need to complete annuity training every 2 years before renewing my license?
    Although some states require continuous training, the rule in Illinois is only a one-time requirement. Once this training has been completed, no additional annuity-specific coursework is required in order to renew a producer’s license. However, producers who sell variable products might be required to take special courses through FINRA in order to renew their securities license.
  6. I have a non-resident Illinois license and completed annuity training for my home state. Do I need an Illinois annuity course?
    In general, non-resident producers are exempt from the Illinois requirement if they satisfy the annuity training requirements in their home state. However, the topics covered in their training must be substantially similar to those required by Illinois.
  7. What will happen if I don’t complete the training?
    Insurance companies are required to verify completion of the training before letting anyone sell annuities on their behalf. Most carriers take this responsibility very seriously and won’t let you do business with them unless they obtain proof of your completion.Some insurers go beyond the Illinois requirement and want producers to take specific courses from specific education providers. If you have not completed your training and are asked to do so by a particular insurance carrier, you might want to ask about any company-specific rules.Be aware that the Department of Insurance will not keep a permanent record of your course completion. In order to prove that you have completed the mandatory training, you should keep a certificate of completion in a safe place. This document will be provided to you by your course provider.

Producer Alert: Illinois Makes Changes to LTC Training Requirement

New rules published last week by the Illinois Department of Insurance have made subtle yet significant changes to the training requirements for producers who sell long-term care coverage. Those same rules also provide some long-awaited guidance for insurance carriers who are interested in offering LTC policies in conjunction with the state’s somewhat mysterious Long Term Care Partnership Program.

Are There Changes to Licensing Requirements?
For producers wanting to sell LTC products, the basics of the licensing and training requirements remain the same: An individual who wishes to sell LTC insurance in the state must first have a health insurance license and complete an 8-hour “Long Term Care (Partnership)” training course. Then, in order to continue selling the insurance, the licensee must complete an additional 4 hours of LTC training every 2 years.

What’s The New LTC Training Deadline?
Until now, the 2-year deadline for completing the 4 hours of additional training was tied to the date of the producer’s most recent LTC course completion and not to the producer’s license expiration date. As a result, producers could only ensure compliance with their 4-hour requirement if they could remember the completion date of their initial 8-hour course and all of their subsequent 4-hour completion dates.
Effective immediately, the deadline for completing the additional 4 hours of training is identical to a producer’s license expiration date.

What If I Miss The Deadline?
In another change to the training requirements, the department has implemented a 12-month grace period for producers who fail to complete 4 hours of additional training. Producers who miss their 4-hour deadline will be able to complete their training during the grace period without having to repeat an 8-hour training course again. Be aware, however, that this grace period doesn’t exempt producers from having to complete 24 hours of continuing education (LTC training or otherwise) prior to renewing their license. Selling LTC insurance without the proper license or prior to completing the required 8-hour or 4-hour training continues to be a licensing violation.

What’s New With LTC Partnership Policies?
Besides the changes to producer training, the department’s new rules contain a list of requirements for Long Term Care Partnership policies. Already popular in other states, Partnership policies might allow beneficiaries to qualify for Medicaid without having to “spend down” practically all of their savings. For each dollar received in benefits from an Illinois Partnership policy, the recipient can shield one dollar of assets. Changes to the Illinois rules reflect model language from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

For help with any of your Illinois insurance CE needs, visit us online or call (800) 289-4310.

Health Insurance Exchanges: 10 Key Questions for Consumers

medical doctor

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”) is accelerating and will result in several important changes to the U.S. health care system over the coming months. One significant change is the opening of new insurance marketplaces, known as “exchanges,” in many states on October 1. But what exactly are these exchanges, and how do they relate to the law’s other major pieces? This Q&A factsheet addresses those crucial questions and prepares consumers for what’s to come.

1. What’s an exchange?

A health insurance exchange is a government-overseen marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can shop for health insurance coverage. Individuals and small businesses who shop in an exchange will be able to closely compare their insurance options, determine their eligibility for new federal tax credits and apply for a health plan of their choice. Although several insurance companies will be offering plans for sale on the exchanges, all plans must meet certain federal and/or state standards.

Even though consumers will still be allowed to purchase insurance outside of an exchange, there are several important reasons why consumers might shop in one. Most importantly, individuals and small businesses must purchase their insurance through an exchange if they wish to receive tax credits and government subsidies that are available under the Affordable Care Act.

2. What’s the difference between an exchange and a marketplace?

In news items or discussions about the new health care law, you may have heard people use terms like “health insurance exchange” and “health insurance marketplace.” These terms mean the same thing. Although the law itself uses the term “exchange,” the general consensus is that the term “marketplace” is easier for consumers to understand.

3. What kind of insurance will be available in an exchange?

All insurance in an exchange must provide “essential health benefits,” including (but not limited to) coverage for hospitalization, emergency services, rehabilitation services, prescription drugs, preventive care, mental health care and maternity/newborn/pediatric services. However, consumers can still be held responsible for deductibles, copayments and coinsurance fees. These out-of-pocket expenses must have an annual cap (approximately $6,300 for individuals and $12,700 for families).

In order to give consumers a general sense of their potential out-of-pocket expenses, plans in the exchanges will be put into one of several metal-based categories. For example, plans that are estimated to pay for roughly 90 percent of covered services will be categorized as “platinum” plans. Conversely, plans that are estimated to pay for roughly 60 percent of covered services will be categorized as “bronze” plans. Be aware that these metal-named designations are merely estimates that are based on a broad base of consumers. The amount actually paid by an insurer for a specific kind of care might be higher or lower than these percentages.

4. Will plans in an exchange charge me more if I’m in bad health?

Plans in an exchange are prohibited from discriminating against consumers on the basis of health. They can’t refuse to insure someone because of health and can’t charge a sick person more than a healthy person.  Similarly, the cost of group insurance can’t be based on the collective health of the group’s members.

Although there may be some differences from state to state, the cost of coverage for a consumer will depend on the chosen plan and the following factors:

  • Age. (The cost for any one age group can’t be more than three times the cost of any other age group.)
  • Tobacco use. (The cost for smokers can’t exceed 150 percent of the cost for non-smokers. People in group plans can receive non-smoker rates by participating in a smoking cessation program.)
  • Geography. (For employer group plans, this will be based on the location of the employer, not the location of the individual employee.)
  • Whether the coverage is for an individual or family.

5. Will I receive tax credits or subsidies if I purchase insurance through an exchange?

U.S. citizens and legal residents with low or moderate incomes might have some of their insurance premiums paid for by the federal government if they shop in an exchange. This assistance is provided as a tax credit and is provided on a sliding scale to households whose income is below 400 percent of the poverty line. (The poverty line is adjusted each year and is dependent on family size. For 2013, 400 percent of the poverty line is roughly $46,000 for a one-person household and $94,200 for a family of four.)

The amount of an individual’s potential tax credit will be calculated by the exchange when the person shops there. Consumers who are eligible for the credit will have the choice of either receiving it in the form of an annual tax refund or having it applied automatically to their insurance premiums and sent directly to an insurer upon enrollment. Married couples who wish to receive the credit must file their income taxes jointly.

Households with an income below 250 percent of poverty will receive additional financial assistance in order to reduce their deductibles, copayments and co-insurance fees.

Credits and subsidies can be estimated via an online tool from the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

6. I get health insurance through my job. Can I buy my own insurance in the exchange and get the tax credit/subsidies?

Workers who are offered insurance through their employer can decline it and purchase their own insurance in an exchange. However, they usually won’t be eligible for the tax credit or other subsidies.

In general, an individual who is offered group health insurance will only be eligible for the aforementioned financial assistance if the group plan provides insufficient benefits (by covering less than 60 percent of treatment-related costs) or is unaffordable (more than 9.5 percent of the person’s income for self-only coverage.)

7. When can an individual enroll in a plan in the exchange?

Eligible individuals can’t be denied health insurance in an exchange as long as they enroll during an open enrollment period. The first chance to enroll will occur from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. In order to have coverage in place by January 1, 2014, individuals must enroll by December 15 of this year. In subsequent years, enrollment will open on an annual basis from October 15 to December 7. Individuals will also be allowed to enroll at any point during the year in special circumstances. Special circumstances might include the loss of other coverage, the birth or adoption of a child or a marriage.

8. What is the enrollment process like for individuals in an exchange?

Individuals who wish to purchase insurance through an exchange will complete a single application that will determine their eligibility for all plans in the exchange as well as their eligibility for other health insurance, such as Medicaid or other federal insurance programs. Once eligibility has been determined, the applicant will be contacted by the exchange and can begin shopping. The applicant will enroll in a chosen plan through the exchange, and the exchange will notify the person’s chosen insurer. Although most applications and enrollments are likely to be done online at healthcare.gov and other websites, phone and mail options will also be available. Individuals in Illinois can enroll and learn more by going to getcoveredillinois.gov or by calling (800) 318-2596.

9. Can an employer’s group plan charge employees different amounts based on their age?

Unless prohibited by their state, group plans in an exchange can charge employees different amounts for health insurance based on age. However, employers will retain the option of charging a flat amount for each employee regardless of age.

10. Why are group plans being allowed to charge different amounts based on an employee’s age?

In order for an employer to purchase insurance through an exchange, at least 70 percent of eligible employees must participate in it. (There is an exemption for employees who are already covered by different health insurance.) Research has shown that younger (and presumably healthier) employees are more likely to decline health insurance from their employer. The age-based pricing is designed to encourage greater participation among this demographic.

To learn how insurance agents and brokers will be impacted by the exchanges, keep reading Real Estate Institute’s blog. Important information will be posted here.