2022-What Is an Insurance Agency?

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This put up is a part of a collection sponsored by AgentSync.

Whether or not you name it an insurance coverage company or a enterprise entity, some insurance-industry-adjacent companies’ workings are topic to regulatory scrutiny for insurance policies, fee, and process, whereas others are usually not. Telling the distinction and deciding what constitutes an company for regulatory functions is a matter of nuance.

The word-jumble that constitutes the insurance coverage {industry} typically contains companies with nebulous roles and frustratingly imprecise descriptions – take into account FMOs, IMOs, and NMOs, or aggregators, or MGAs, or brokerages. That’s to not point out particular person and household practices, companies, or businesses. Or, take into account securities-adjacent practices like Registered Funding Advisory companies or broker-dealers. In a short time, pinning down an company or insurance coverage “enterprise entity” turns into a matter of understanding it while you see it, however setting that know-how to agency ink (or pixels, because it had been) is one other matter.

Insurance 101: What Is an Insurance Agency?

As we dive into the existential questions of businesses, enterprise entities, and regulation, please keep in mind that this weblog is just not complete, it’s not terribly authoritative, and, most significantly, it isn’t your in-house authorized counsel. So, if in case you have questions on what laws apply to you and your online business, particularly, this would possibly increase some questions so that you can examine additional, however discovering the solutions goes to be a query on your state regulator or precise lawyer.

Regulating businesses – authorized definitions and licensure

This looks like it will be easy. But, within the definition of what constitutes a “enterprise entity” there’s a great web page of debate notes within the Nationwide Affiliation of Insurance coverage Commissioner’s inside documentation. Is an company a corporation that’s assigned commissions? Is it licensed? Is it anybody or something that’s serving to a producer promote insurance coverage?

As is so typically the case within the insurance coverage {industry}, a part of the dialogue varies broadly by state. The nuances of regulation specific to businesses are fairly completely different, whether or not you’re licenses, appointments, affiliations, DRLPs, and many others.

Broadly talking, although, so far as laws are involved, a business entity should be licensed (in the states where they license agencies) or viewed as an agency when they

  1. have staff or contracted staff who’re producers, or are benefitting from assigned commissions from insurance coverage producers and
  2. are concerned within the sale, negotiation, or solicitation of insurance coverage and
  3. are usually not insurance coverage carriers or adjusters

Basically, if a enterprise entity is gathering producers and has an incentive to assist them promote insurance coverage, then it’s an insurance coverage company and might want to observe applicable state licensure necessities.

That is additionally a cause we’ve seen warnings such as those issued by Commissioner Jim Donelon of Louisiana to insurance-adjacent industries like banking or actual property, the place those that refer enterprise to insurance coverage brokers are crossing a line into solicitation or negotiation. If these professionals or entities are straying too far into the insurance coverage lane, they’ll be regulated (i.e. penalized) like a non-licensed company.

Construction of an company

An insurance coverage company may have all kinds of buildings. To offer you an thought of what this seems like, West Virginia’s guidance on insurance agencies says:

“Insurance coverage company” means a person, company, partnership, affiliation, restricted legal responsibility firm, or different authorized entity aside from an worker of the person, company, partnership, affiliation, restricted legal responsibility firm, or different authorized entity, and aside from an insurer or an adjuster as outlined by part twelve-b [§ 33-1-12b], article one in all this chapter, which employs people licensed to have interaction in exercise or whose members interact in any exercise be carried out solely by a licensed particular person insurance coverage producer or solicitor. It shall not embody sole proprietor or partnerships in which there’s just one licensed insurance coverage producer.”

That is pretty typical in that

  1. Nearly any construction or form of firm could be an company however
  2. Even a whole lot of states that require businesses to have a license don’t acknowledge sole proprietorships as businesses except there are a number of insurance coverage producers within the store

DRLPs, affiliations, and businesses

As we’ve covered elsewhere, states require businesses to report a delegated accountable licensed particular person, who normally needs to be

  • An officer, director, or associate within the enterprise
  • Licensed within the line(s) of authority the enterprise is transacting
  • Affiliated

In states that don’t require or enable businesses to have their very own license, the DRLP license is usually thought of synonymous with the company’s skill to jot down enterprise. If the DRLP loses their license, the ability of the agency and its producers to keep selling is in jeopardy.

In some states, DRLPs are the one producers who’re required to have an company affiliation. In others, states require businesses to report the entire businesses who’re writing on their contracts and who’re utilizing their company relationship to safe provider appointments.

Affiliations are additionally tough to keep up as a result of most states both require businesses to maintain an inside report, or to report affiliated producers through particular person or state portals, so there aren’t choices for a central, bulk reporting functionality resembling NIPR.

Appointments for enterprise entities

Like affiliations, appointment regulations are scattered, and that goes double for agency-specific appointment necessities. Some states require enterprise entities to be appointed by the provider, and it doesn’t matter whether or not the enterprise entities’ producers are appointed or not. Others require particular person producer appointments however don’t enable for enterprise entity appointments. After which some require each particular person, enterprise entity, or strolling emblem to have an appointment in the event that they plan to sneeze on an insurance coverage contract and receives a commission.

Department places of work

Department workplace laws add a complete new side to the existential company query, as a result of some states require every department to be handled as if it’s an company in its personal proper, with separate licensing, affiliation data, appointments, and contracts. Other states, like Texas, have moved to treating the agency as getting a one-per-state designation and rolling up all the opposite branches beneath that for reporting functions.

As a result of state laws fluctuate, and are so impactful on the definitions and necessities for agency-based guidelines, it may be tough to maintain straight what stage any given enterprise is at in a distribution pipeline. For those who’re able to get some readability in your companions – no matter jurisdiction – and guarantee fullstack compliance with the related pointers, see how AgentSync can help.

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