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California Insurance Regulator Continues Search for Problem to Solve on Broker Compensation

INDIANAPOLIS (April 27, 2005)—California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi’s hoped-for regulations on the professional duties of an agent or broker propose solutions to problems that have yet to be identified according to the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC).

“The logical construct is that one should establish the existence of a problem before demanding a solution,” said NAMIC State Affairs Manager Christian J. Rataj. “To date, no evidence has been offered by the commissioner to support his conclusion that insurance producers are placing their desire for financial gain above the needs of their clients.”

NAMIC and its state advocacy partner, the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC), oppose unreasonable regulations on insurance producers that would require them to disclose their compensation to a consumer. PIFC had earlier termed the proposed regulations as a “solution in search of a problem.”

The original version of the regulations was released in October of 2004. NAMIC and PIFC argued that the regulations were unworkable and that the California Department of Insurance (CDI) did not have the legal authority to change existing state law. While the revised proposed regulations are less onerous than the original, NAMIC asserts the fundamental position that the CDI should adopt only those regulations that are specifically tailored to address an “actual documented” problem.

The April 13 proposed regulations would:

  • Require the agent or broker to advise a client, prior to signing an agreement or receiving a fee, whether the producer will seek a quote from one insurer or more than one insurer;
  • Require the agent or broker to reveal if he is acting on behalf of the insurer or the client in connection with the placement of insurance. A producer who accepts a fee from a client is conclusively deemed to be acting on behalf of the client;
  • Require the agent or broker to reveal the amount of compensation he or she will receive if the client purchases insurance with any insurer recommended by the agent or broker. If the amount of compensation cannot reasonably be known at the time this disclosure is made, the producer may disclose the method by which any such compensation will or may be calculated;
  • A broker or agent acting on behalf of the client, or who accepts a fee from the client, may not accept any compensation from a third party for the transaction done on behalf of the client without first obtaining the consent of the client; and
  • A broker or agent who has told a client that he will search for the best quote on a policy must reveal the number of quotes obtained, the name of the insurer, the premium amount, and other required information.

NAMIC, PIFC and other members of the insurance industry will file written comments in opposition to the proposed regulations and will participate in a May 9 workshop to express concerns about the legitimacy of imposing new regulations to resolve an “unidentified” problem.

The proposed new regulations can be read at NAMIC Online.

Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 12:00:00 AM. Modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 6:02:35 PM.

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