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Thursday, August 15, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak criticized the federal government Thursday for wasting $1.6 million of taxpayer money on Navigator grants related to the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Thursday that three organizations in Oklahoma were just awarded the grants.
“First, HHS wastes money and increases costs for insurers and consumers by duplicating regulation already performed by the Oklahoma Insurance Department,” said Doak. “Now, they continue this wastefulness by spending more on organizations that will be duplicating the work done by Oklahoma’s licensed agents and brokers.”
Currently, the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) regulates more than 335,000 licensed agents and brokers. Under state law, only those licensees may sell, solicit and negotiate insurance in Oklahoma. Thursday, OID issued a bulletin clarifying which activities fall under those guidelines. The bulletin also describes which clerical activities may be performed by non-licensed individuals.
Licensed activities include:
1. Urging or advising any prospective purchaser to buy any particular policy or to insure with any particular company;
2. Completing or signing applications for insurance if the person is other than the applicant's authorized representative;
3. Initiating an inquiry as to the terms of existing coverage, except exclusively in the course of clerical duties;
4. Discussing or describing the coverages or terms of a proposed contract of insurance with a prospective policyholder, including counseling as to which coverages to buy.
Clerical (non-licensed) activities include:
1. Marketing research or prospecting so long as no attempt is made to solicit or to discuss a specific insurance product or to encourage replacement of an existing policy;
2. Scheduling appointments with insurance producers;
3. Receiving and recording information from an applicant or policyholder and preparing for an insurance producer's review and signature all binders, certificates, endorsements, identification cards or policies pursuant to instructions from the insurance producer;
4. Disseminating buyer's guides, applications for coverage, coverage selection forms or other similar forms in response to a request from prospective or current policyholders.
The entire bulletin can be found at http://www.ok.gov/oid/documents/081513_Producer%20Licensing%20Bulletin%202013-09.pdf.
“Consumers can feel confident working with licensed agents and brokers and sharing their personal information,” said Doak. “These individuals are trained, tested, background checked and insured. Navigators are not regulated by the Insurance Department and cannot provide these assurances. If they perform any of the duties restricted by law to our licensed agents and brokers, we will put a stop to it.”
In addition to the training and licensing requirements of OID, licensees are able to pursue additional professional certifications that assist them with meeting specific consumer needs. There are many designations that consumers can seek out when finding a personal agent or broker, including Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Registered Employee Benefits Consultant (REBC), Registered Health Underwriter (RHU), and more. For more information consumers can ask their agent or broker or the entities that provide these certifications.
About the Oklahoma Insurance Department
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.
For more information contact: