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Volume 3, No. 2 - February 2014

Compliance Corner

This section has been created to assist you in keeping your insurance business in compliance. The items are intended as reminders only and are not necessarily the exact text of the Florida Statutes or Florida Administrative Code. The legal cites have been provided for your further reference.

Records Retention and Department Access to Records

With respect to access to records, the Florida Statutes require licensees to have their records readily accessible to the Department. Similarly, the Florida Statutes require that records be made freely available to the Department. The statutes do not allow licensees or agency staff to set pre-conditions on access to records such as making an appointment in advance or sending a letter in advance of what is wanted.

There appears to be some confusion over how long records need to be kept. The Florida Statutes require licensees to preserve their books, accounts and records for at least three (3) years. The preservation of records by computer or photographic reproductions or records in photographic form is sufficient to be compliant, as long as they can be made available immediately upon request.

There also seems to be some confusion over whether or not the Department is capable of maintaining confidentiality over the records we obtain. The Florida Statutes clearly state that the complaint and any information obtained pursuant to an investigation by the Department is confidential. The records could become a matter of public record if charges are filed or any type of disciplinary action is taken.

[See Sections 624.318(2), 626.561(2), 626.601(6), 626.748, 648.26, 648.295(2), 648.36, and 648.46, Florida Statutes]

Life and Health Agents: Working from Home?

Many life and health agents rent space in a "virtual office" that are typically just conference rooms where the agent can meet with the clients outside of their home. However, the agent's home is usually the place where records are stored. Therefore the agent's home address should be listed as the business address on file with the Department, not the location of the rented space.

You can easily update your address (and other demographic information) online via your MyProfile account.

[See Sections 626.551 and 626.749, Florida Statutes]

Title Agents: Advertising to Cover Fees is a Marketing No-No

As a marketing idea you want to offer to cover the wire fee from your customer's bank. Their wire fee is $25 or less so that should not constitute going over the advertising fee limit, correct? No.

The $25 fee that is stated in Section 626.9541(1)(m), Florida Statutes, is for advertising gifts, ONLY.

This fee is the limit each article of merchandise must not exceed when a licensee wants to give a person something that will remind that person of that licensee and his/her services. The examples we often use are coffee mugs, umbrellas, portfolios, pens, key fobs, etc. containing the licensee or business name.

It is important to note that the statute clearly states this must be an article of merchandise. Food does not qualify as merchandise. Gift cards are not considered merchandise.

Offering to cover any fee or charge could be considered to be a violation of Section 626.9541(1)(h), Florida Statutes.

Payment of the customer's bank wire fee by a licensee would be an inducement for a person to use one title agent's services over another.

[See Section 626.9541, Florida Statutes]