2022-How States Regulate or Limit MGA Non-Commission Fees: A Sample


This submit is a part of a sequence sponsored by AgentSync.

Managing normal brokers (MGAs) are a black gap of insurance coverage information – with many avenues of compensation, it may be complicated to know how MGAs are even allowed to gather income, and it varies by state!

(After all it does, however you already knew that, you smartypants.)

MGAs and their life insurance coverage counterparts, MGUs, are sometimes skating the sides of insurance coverage regulation. In some contexts, they’re regulated like businesses, in others, like carriers. The Venn diagram of alternatives to get blended up about once they’re regulated like what is an ideal circle.

With that in thoughts, in the event you’re liable for MGA or MGU regulation, take note this can be a place to begin, but it surely’s not the premise for authorized selections. Readers should do their very own due diligence, interval, exclamation level.

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Company-like MGA compensation

As a result of MGAs maintain an odd house within the trade, they may receives a commission by means of quite a lot of means.

MGAs and MGUs that present downstream producer gross sales will seemingly have assigned commissions from these producer gross sales, in addition to any related gross sales incentive perks or “finders charge” kind incentives. These charges are the identical that an company appearing in the identical capability would make.

Service obligation MGA compensations

An MGA or MGU that’s doing underwriting, claims-paying, or taking over different duties for a provider goes to be compensated by that provider based on their particular state-mandated contract.

The MGA or MGU is appearing in a fiduciary capability, appearing on behalf of the insurance coverage provider on this occasion, and their actions are going to be held up as if they’re the actions of a provider.

Similar to a TPA arrangement, MGAs are usually going to be compensated by the insurance coverage carriers for these companies both as a share enterprise or through a transaction-based charge. That is one other space the place being acquainted with basic MGA regulation is so key, and understanding your provider contract is important.

Underwriting, particularly, although, is a humorous factor. For those who’ve ever been underwritten for a life insurance coverage coverage, there’s a great probability you didn’t pay a factor. However in the event you’ve bought a house, the underwriting to your financial institution’s mortgage insurance coverage seemingly was included in your price, even when it wasn’t precisely clear as a line merchandise.

Non-commission client charges

If carriers don’t must compensate MGAs for underwriting, and that is perhaps handed on to a client, what else might be handed on? Genuinely, compensation constructions elevate loads of questions!

For example, say an MGA focuses on a brokerage-style service, constructing a plan and in search of a particular provider protection for the consumer that delivers on a distinct segment want? The MGA might wish to gather a dealer’s charge for service, separate from any fee for the last word sale of the coverage.

Or, how a couple of life insurance coverage MGU that hires a concierge medical service to conduct medical health exams for all times insurance coverage qualification screenings? Is {that a} charge the MGU can cross on to customers?

Most states preserve a fairly tight rein on the costs they permit carriers, MGAs, businesses, and producers to cross on to customers, however at the same time as we dive in, that is an space with loads of variation, nuance, and grey house.

Regulation relating to MGA non-commission charges

For those who read our past piece on broker compensation, loads of these sentiments apply right here, too: States have totally different concepts, and, whereas all states say “customers shouldn’t pay twice for a similar service,” they don’t all agree on what that truly means. (Critically it’s best to learn that dealer piece. We’ll wait.)

Like brokers, MGAs and MGUs maintain a wibbly jibbly center floor the place there aren’t loads of rules particularly directed towards their particular enterprise constructions. As a substitute, as we famous from the outset, they typically swap between company and provider regulatory contexts. To make issues extra sophisticated, businesses and MGAs are sometimes held to the identical normal as producers with regards to due diligence and sure product rules.

To get a straight reply, then, on the specifics of their regulation, we requested just a few states instantly. “How do you deal with MGA charges that aren’t commissions?”

Rhode Island’s strategy to MGA non-commission charges

The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation pointed to a bulletin it released in 2002 interpreting state law. The bulletin makes use of “P&C producer” all through the piece, however, since this was in response to an MGA-specific query, we’re decoding it to use to MGAs, as nicely.

The bulletin says if the producer collects a fee, they will’t additionally cost a charge for “companies which can be typically related to the promoting, soliciting or negotiation of the insurance coverage.”

Moreover, carriers can’t cross on fees within the P&C house which can be a part of the price of doing enterprise. As a substitute, the bulletin says the provider must issue commissions and different prices into ratepayer arguments they submit for approval to the state.

And Rhode Island’s bulletin particularly instructs the concerned events to not cost based mostly on how a client pays for insurance coverage merchandise: If there are back-end charges for bank card fees or money transfers, the state says plan forward for these bills as a result of you possibly can’t cross them on to customers.

Within the full text of regulation for surplus lines brokers, Rhode Island says surplus traces brokers should cost a tax and will cross on pre-agreed and pre-approved prices of underwriting to insureds. For those who’re confused about taxes and insurance coverage, keep in mind nonadmitted insurance coverage – which is offered by means of surplus traces brokers – isn’t lined by the complete protections and advantages of state legislation, so it’s taxed as a sale.

Maryland’s strategy to MGA non-commission charges

The Previous Line State additionally responded to our request for charge steering. Much like Rhode Island, Maryland has a charge or fee (not each!) response, though there are some nuances to Maryland state insurance laws which can be value speaking about.

  • Variable commissions on industrial insurance policies: If a producer sells a coverage to an exempt industrial policyholder (which comes with very solid guidelines, outlined in this handy 2018 bulletin), they will settle for a variable fee payout that doesn’t comply with normal state-approved tips provided that it’s going to imply the policyholder can pay at or beneath the state-approved price.
  • Fee or a service charge: Producers can cost a charge of as much as 15 p.c of the coverage premium provided that the insurer or MGA isn’t paying a fee again to them.
  • Life insurers (or, presumably, MGUs if they’re filling this position) can cross on the price of a medical examination to underwrite a life insurance coverage applicant.
  • Surplus traces brokers can cross on the price of the gross sales tax related to promoting non-admitted insurances, and may – to a restrict – cross on the prices of underwriting, inspecting, or writing a coverage.
  • A producer can cross on the costs of putting a coverage within the Maryland Car Insurance coverage Fund, together with the price of procuring a driving document from the Maryland Motor Automobile Administration.
  • An insurer can cost a charge for late premium funds, or cost to have a lapsed coverage reinstated.
  • A producer or a surplus traces dealer can cross on the price of operating a cost by means of a bank card or different fee-incurring course of. You’ll be aware, that is explicitly totally different from Rhode Island’s steering.

Kentucky’s strategy to MGA non-commission charges

Kentucky’s legislation is kind of temporary relating to insurance coverage charges. The state’s insurance coverage division pointed us to a piece that principally simply says insurance distributors should only collect premium for insurance, and any additional actual costs necessary to secure that insurance. One other amendment to Kentucky law in 2010 provides that P&C insurance coverage producers can gather to cowl the prices of underwriting if these prices have been authorized by the Kentucky insurance coverage commissioner.

The Kentucky Insurance coverage Division’s response to our questions additionally included the division’s personal interpretation:

The Division doesn’t produce a breakdown of allowable or prohibited charges, however moderately has suggested entities up to now of the Division’s interpretation of KRS 304.12-190.

The Division’s place is that an company might cross mailing and bank card charges to an insured, as long as the company will not be profiting off of the extra charges. Moreover, you might have particularly referenced underwriting charges. That is addressed in KRS 304.13-171, which permits underwriting charges to be handed to insureds as long as these charges have been filed with and authorized by Kentucky’s Insurance coverage Commissioner.

You’re in all probability pondering, “Nicely thanks so much for that pattern, now I’ve received a listing of three states that every take totally different approaches to a easy query.” And also you’re proper. Our takeaways:

  • Discover, Maryland and Kentucky each particularly say it’s wonderful to cross on the price of accepting bank card funds to your buyer. In the meantime, Rhode Island particularly says you possibly can’t do this.
  • All three permit surplus traces insurers to cross on underwriting charges, however take various approaches to how different traces of enterprise ought to deal with these prices.
  • Your greatest guess is to verify particularly with every state to see what charges it does or doesn’t permit earlier than you get your self in regulatory sizzling water.

AgentSync can’t resolve your state-by-state allowable charge complications, however in the event you’re bored with studying by means of state laws and doing your individual interpretation of state necessities for producer licensing and compliance, we really feel your ache. If you’re a carrier, MGA, or agency and want to take a regulatory aspirin, see how AgentSync can help.

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