Volume 5, No. 3 - March 2016

In The Know

- Keeping you informed is what it's all about

Reciprocal Action Law Protecting Florida's Insurance & Financial Market

The regulations provided in the Safeguard Our Seniors ("SOS") Act have served as a strong deterrent and have helped curb the unethical sales practices occurring in the annuity market. The SOS Act was passed during the 2010 legislative session and enhanced penalties for unethical annuity sales practices as well as provided certain consumer protections and disclosures, some specifically for seniors (age 65 or older). One of those protections was the authority granted to the Department to take reciprocal action against an agent's license who had been disciplined under his or her securities registration or other financial services-related license.

Since the reciprocal action statute (ss. 626.621(13), F.S.) went into effect on January 1, 2011, the Department has taken the following enforcement actions against licensees and have other cases pending:

• 74 revocations
• 21 suspensions
• 28 open investigations

By removing these licensees from the financial services business either permanently or for a number of months under suspensions, these highly effective laws are helping protect the integrity of the insurance/financial services business in addition to affording better protection for Florida consumers.

Bail Bond Agents: Reminder about Referring Attorneys

The Florida Statutes prohibit a bail bond agent from suggesting or advising the employment of any particular attorney to represent his/her principal (defendant).

The Department strictly enforces this statute and does not allow any bail bond agent to refer any defendant to a particular attorney or attorneys. Bail bond agents found to be referring defendants to use the services of one or more attorneys may find they are the subject of an investigation into their business activities as a licensee.

To be clear, the bail bond agent's act of suggesting more than one attorney does not remove it from being "any particular attorney". All attorneys are "particular" attorneys if they are chosen by the agent to suggest to a client. This includes bail bond agents:

  • Making business cards available for one or more attorneys;
  • Providing a list of attorneys recommended by the bail bond agent; and/or
  • Distributing marketing materials for one or more attorneys.

It does not include a bail bond agent who provides the defendant with an unaltered copy of the local telephone directory, or a listing by the Florida Bar of the attorneys in a particular area or field of expertise. It also does not prevent a bail bond agent from providing a defendant with the contact information for a lawyer referral service, as long as that service is not associated with the bail bond agent or bail bond agency.

[See 648.44(1)(a), Florida Statutes]

Temporary Bail Bond Agent Appointment Fee

The Bureau of Licensing is receiving an increasing number of appointment applications submitted with a $100 payment for the appointment fee. The temporary bail bond agent appointment fee is $90, not $100. The overpayment results in the need for refund of the overpayment. Please be sure when submitting any fees to the Department, to confirm the fee amount. License and appointment fees are listed on this page on our website.

Appointments and Insurance Transactions

A licensee may not transact insurance or adjust claims until he or she is appointed by an insurer, adjusting firm, general lines agent or the licensee (in the case of a self-appointed licensee), in accordance with the class(es) of licensure held. For instance, if an individual is licensed in the classes of life, including variable annuity and health, and wishes to market all three types of products, he or she must be appointed by either an insurance company authorized under its Certificate of Authority to transact all three of these lines of business or by separate companies for each line. For example, if Company ABC appoints an agent to sell only life insurance, then the agent will still be required to obtain an additional appointment(s) with an appropriate company(s) for the variable annuity and health portion of his or her license, if the agent intends to market these products.

Who can appoint licensees?

  1. Insurance companies appoint agents and insurance company employee adjusters.
  2. Licensed and appointed General Lines (Property & Casualty) insurance agents appoint customer representatives, crop hail and multiple-peril crop insurance agents.
  3. Adjusting firms appoint independent and public adjusters.
  4. Surplus lines agents, reinsurance intermediaries, professional bail bond agents, viatical settlement brokers, and self-employed independent or public adjusters are responsible for appointing themselves.

To verify your license and appointment status, you can log in to your MyProfile account or use our public licensee search

Marking Emails from the Department as SPAM

If a licensee marks an email notification from the Department as SPAM, they may not get our future emails but will still be held responsible for complying with the Florida Insurance Code. We have become aware that some licensees mark our communications as SPAM accidentally since they are quickly and without much attention marking a lot of messages in their Inbox as SPAM. Please be sure to pay close attention when you are doing this as it could cause you to unknowingly miss important information about your license and possibly violate the Florida Insurance Code.

For example, we notify you via email that your CE requirement is due and you mark the message as SPAM. Our system receives notification of this then marks your email address as an invalid email address and no longer send emails to it. From that point on, you do not receive the email notifications we attempt to send to you. These emails would have let you know that you have passed your CE due date and you stand to lose any and all appointments you have. After four years without an appointment, your license expires. That one simple click marking our message as SPAM can lead to this situation. Unfortunately, if it reaches this final point of the license expiring, you may have to re-qualify as a first-time applicant, including passing an examination.

Additionally, if we receive a bounced response to an email notification we send you, our system will mark your email address as an invalid email address and no longer send emails to it. A bounced email or bad address will prevent a company from appointing a licensee. If your email address changes, you are required by Section 626.551, F.S. to notify us. This can easily be done through your MyProfile account.

The 2015 Florida Statutes Now Available Online

The most current Florida Statutes can now be viewed at Online Sunshine - Title XXXVII Insurance.