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Division Director

Greg Thomas


Insurance Agent and Agency Services
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0318
Bureau of Licensing
(850) 413-3137
Bureau of Investigation
(850) 413-3136
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Compliance Information

General Guidelines

Overview

Upon being licensed by the Department of Financial Services and appointed by an authorized appointing entity, you are authorized to transact business within your respective license class. With this authorization comes the responsibility to conduct business according to the rules and statutes of the Florida Insurance Code. In most of the major license classes issued by the department, a pre-licensing course is required that gives you a foundation for being compliant in your particular area of licensure.

One definition of compliance is that “it is a state of being in accordance with established guidelines, specifications, or legislation.”

No matter what class of license you hold, the business of insurance engages the public trust. Therefore, being in compliance means that you are conducting yourself and your business practices in accordance with the laws and regulations of Florida.

There are areas of compliance that are pertinent to all or most classes of licenses issued by the Department of Financial Services. Certain license classes will have additional, specific requirements that must be met in order to be in compliance.

It is important that as a licensee you have access to information to assist you in keeping your insurance business in compliance. This section should be an important tool in helping you meet that goal just as the Pulse and other Department communications are. However, it does not and cannot replace statutes, department rules, orders or case law. The items below 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.

Advertising

As a licensee you must ensure that any advertisements you place in order to solicit insurance business through an advertisement, announcement, or statement does not knowingly contain any assertion, representation, or statement with respect to the business of insurance, which is untrue, deceptive, or misleading. The specific text of the law can be found at: 626.9541(1)(b)(e), F.S.

Also, be sure any advertising materials you use would not cause a reasonable person to believe the State or Federal government is responsible for the insurance sales activities of you or any person that represents you or your business. The full text of the law can be found at: 626.9541(1)(a)9, F.S.

When advertising for life, health, or annuity products, if there is a reference in the advertisement to a specific policy feature, interest or bonus rate, premium amount, etc., the name of the insurer issuing the policy needs to be disclosed in the advertisement. Furthermore, that insurer needs to approve the advertisement prior to dissemination. Making any alterations to an advertisement that has already been approved by the insurer could cause it to no longer be compliant. See 69B-150.114, F.A.C.

Advertising Gifts Permitted

An insurance company or an agent may give an article of merchandise having a value of no more than $25 for the purpose of advertising. Some common examples would be printed coffee cups, pens, pencils, calendars and rulers. See 626.9541(1)(m), F.S. Please note: A gift card is NOT considered an article of merchandise for the purposes of this section.

Applications

Applications for policies you write must prominently display the name of the insuring entity on the first page of the application form at the time the coverage is bound or a premium is quoted. All applications must also include your name and license number as shown on the license issued to you by the Department. This information may be typed, printed or handwritten if legible. The rules outlined above do not apply to wet marine, transportation, title, surplus lines, credit life or credit disability applications. For additional information please see section 627.4085, F.S.

Business and Trade Practices

Your profession as a licensed and appointed agent or adjuster engages the public trust. Therefore, your insurance activities and your business practices must be conducted in accordance with the laws and regulations of Florida. There are certain prohibited practices, such as false advertising, unfair discrimination, unfair claim practices, coercion, providing free insurance, unlawful rebates, refusing to insure, misrepresentation, premium surcharges and illegal dealings in premiums that would be considered an unfair trade practice. Please review section 626.9541, F.S., for the full text of the unfair trade practices laws.

Change of Address

Licensees are required to notify us within 30 days after a change of name, e-mail, residence address, principal business street address, mailing address, contact telephone numbers, including a business telephone number. These changes must be completed online at MyProfile. If you move your residence from the State of Florida, your license(s) and all appointments will be terminated. If you fail to notify the department within the 60 day time frame, it will result in a fine not to exceed $250 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses shall result in a fine of at least $500 or a suspension or revocation of your license.

Bail bond agents and agencies have only 10 days and must file form DFS-H2-1564 and DFS-H2-1541, respectively.

See: 626.551, F.S. and 648.421, F.S.

Commissions

There are no rules or statutes that regulate the amount of commission you receive except that Rule 69O-186.003, F.A.C., limits the commission allowed on a title policy. Commissions are considered a part of premium rate filings filed by an insurance company and are reviewed by the Office of Insurance Regulation. The Department of Financial Services does not have the authority to intervene in commission disputes between you and the insurance company or an agency that employed you. It is considered a contractual matter and must be resolved as a civil matter.

Sharing Commissions

You may divide or share commissions only with other agents appointed and licensed to write the same kind or kinds of insurance for which you are licensed. Refer to 626.753(1)(a), F.S., 626.794(1), F.S., and 626.838, F.S.

Commissions after license terminates

If you cease to hold a license to act as an insurance agent, you are still allowed to receive renewal commissions or other deferred commissions or pensions that were earned as part of a sale you made while your license was active. See 626.753(1)(b), F.S.

Rebating of Commissions

Rebating can be defined as giving a customer something of monetary value in exchange for buying a policy from you. Rebating is generally not permitted. However, under certain circumstances, the Florida Insurance Code allows for rebating if the insurance company issuing the policy approves the rebating, a rebating scheduled has been filed with the insurer and you follow a specific set of guidelines as spelled out in 626.572, F.S.

If the rebating guidelines are not followed precisely, rebating would be considered a violation of the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act. You can read the full text here 626.9541(1)(h), F.S.

Title insurance agents and agencies are able to rebate part or their entire share of the title insurance premium; prohibitions to such rebating are identified 626.9541(1)(h)3., F.S.

Compensation and Other Inducements

An insurance agent, insurance agency, customer representative, or insurance agency employee is prohibited from directly or indirectly accepting any compensation, inducement, or reward from an inspector for the referral of the owner of the inspected property to the inspector or inspection company. This prohibition applies to an inspection intended for submission to an insurer in order to obtain property insurance coverage or establish the applicable property insurance premium. [See subsection 626.621(15), F.S.]

In-House Claims Adjuster Licensing Requirement

An in-house adjuster is a term for an adjuster that typically handles a claim from their desk in an office. Even if they do not personally go out to the location of the loss, they must be properly licensed and appointed as such prior to adjusting any claim located in Florida. The only exceptions to this are:

  • Attorneys that are duly licensed to practice law and are in good standing with the Florida Bar.
  • An executive officer of any insurer, or a regularly salaried employee of an insurer handling claims with respect to health insurance, or the duly designated attorney or agent authorized and acting for subscribers to reciprocal insurers, from adjusting any claim loss or damage under any insurance contract of such insurer. However, if there is a problem that is determined to be the result of misconduct of the employee, the insurer could be held responsible.
  • A licensed and appointed insurance agent, if authorized to do so by the appointing insurer.

All adjusters and the company they represent should govern themselves accordingly with regard to adjuster licensing requirements. Any adjuster found not in compliance is subject to administrative and/or criminal action, in addition to the insurance company being referred for possible action against its certificate of authority to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Please see 626.112(3), F.S., 626.860, F.S., 626.861, F.S. and 626.371(2), F.S.

License & Appointment Required

In order to solicit and transact insurance you must be licensed by the Department and appointed by the appropriate appointing entity or person. Transacting insurance is defined in 624.10, F.S. and considered the solicitation (as defined in 626.112(1)(b), F.S.) or inducement to purchase an insurance product, engaging in the preliminary negotiations for the sale, effectuation of a contract of insurance and the transaction of matters subsequent to the transaction of a contract for insurance.

Regarding appointments, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure you have been appointed by the appropriate entity or person. Insurance agencies cannot appoint an agent.

Referral Fees or Gifts to An Unlicensed Person

No insurance agent, agency, or any other person licensed under the Insurance Code may pay a fee or other consideration (gift) to an unlicensed person for the referral of prospective purchasers to an insurance agent which is dependent upon whether the referral results in the purchase of an insurance product. Example: An agent offers to pay someone $5.00 for every person they refer that purchases a policy from him or her. 626.112(8), F.S.

Note: For purposes of advertising, you may give an article of merchandise valued at no more than $25.00, but it cannot be tied or dependent upon the purchase of an insurance policy. 626.9541(1)(m), F.S. A gift card is NOT considered an article of merchandise for the purposes of this section.

Reporting & Accounting for Funds and Record Keeping

As a licensee you have a responsibility to handle “other people’s” money in a fiduciary capacity. Black’s Law Dictionary defines fiduciary as: “A person having duties involving good faith, trust, special confidence, and candor towards another.” Florida law requires all licensed insurance agents to act in a fiduciary capacity by putting the client’s interests before their own. All premiums, return premiums or other funds belonging to insurers, your customers or others received by you, your agency or a member of your staff, such as a customer representative, are trust funds and must be held in trust. In the applicable regular course of business you shall account for and pay the same to the insurer, insured, or other person entitled to the funds.

Section 626.561(3)(a)(b)(c)(d), F.S., outlines the criminal penalties that may be imposed upon any agent, insurance agency, customer representative or adjuster, who, not being lawfully entitled to the money, either temporarily or permanently diverts or misappropriates the funds or any portion of them, or deprives the other person of the benefit the funds would have provided.

You must keep and make available to the department or office books, accounts, and records as will enable the department or office to determine whether you are complying with the provisions of Florida Insurance Code. You must preserve your books, accounts, and records pertaining to a premium payment for at least 3 years after payment; the preservation of records by computer or photographic reproductions or records in photographic form shall constitute compliance with this requirement. All other records shall be maintained in accordance with 626.748, F.S. The 3-year requirement shall not apply to insurance binders when no policy is ultimately issued and no premium is collected. The specific text is found here: 626.561(1)(2), F.S. For title transactions see 627.7845(3), F.S. and 69O-186.009, F.A.C.

Reporting of Actions Against You

You are required to let us know within 30 days of a final disposition of any administrative action. This includes any action by a governmental agency in this or any other state or jurisdiction relating to the business of insurance, the sale of securities, or activity involving fraud, dishonesty, trustworthiness, or breach of fiduciary duty. A copy of the order, consent to order or other relevant legal documents should be directed to: The Florida Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Licensing, 200 East Gaines Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0319. The text of the reporting law can be found here: 626.536, F.S.

You must inform the department in writing within 30 days after pleading guilty or nolo contendere to, or being convicted or found guilty of, any felony or a crime punishable by imprisonment of 1 year or more under the law of the United States or of any state thereof, or under the law of any other country without regard to whether a judgment of conviction has been entered by the court having jurisdiction of the case. See: 626.451(7), F.S.

Representing Yourself at an Informal or Administrative Hearing

Under Florida law, if you contest a Department action, you may request a hearing by filing an Election of Proceeding or by filing your own petition.  There are two main types of hearings: hearings in which you dispute the facts alleged by the Department and hearings in which you do not dispute the facts alleged by the Department.

Petitions must follow certain rules in order to be legally valid.  If you are writing your own petition and you are disputing the facts alleged by the Department, please follow the instructions in Rule 28-106.301, Florida Administrative Code.  If you are not disputing the facts alleged by the Department, please follow the instructions in Rule 28-106.201, Florida Administrative Code.

In either case, your Election of Proceeding or your petition must be received by the Department Clerk within twenty-one (21) days from the date you receive the Department’s charging document or decision.  If you fail to file an Election of Proceeding or a petition via regular U.S. mail or e-mail within 21 days, your right to request a hearing is waived. 

The Department Clerk’s address:

DFS Department Clerk E-mail:

Department of Financial Services
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0390

Julie.Jones@myfloridacfo.com

OPTION 1: REPRESENTING YOURSELF AT AN INFORMAL HEARING

GENERAL INFORMATION

An Informal Hearing is a proceeding conducted pursuant to Section 120.57(2), Florida Statutes, and Rule 28-106.106, Parts I and III, Florida Administrative Code. In this type of proceeding, you are not disputing the facts in a Notice of Denial letter or other charging document. An Informal Hearing provides you the opportunity to explain your situation, to present mitigating information, or provide legal arguments as to why the Department should not do what it intends to do. The hearing will be conducted by an Informal Hearing Officer, whose role is to provide for the orderly presentation of the case, to evaluate the testimony and documentary evidence, and to make an objective recommendation to the Department as to how the case should be decided based on the facts and the law.

You may hire an attorney to represent you or you may present your case yourself.  You may also choose to be represented by a qualified representative.  Information about qualified representatives is found in Rules 28-106.106 and 28-106.107, Florida Administrative Code.

When an Informal Hearing is granted, the Informal Hearing Officer will send an Order to you and the Department's attorney requesting information for scheduling and coordination purposes.

If you requested a proceeding by written submission in lieu of a hearing, the Order will tell you how to submit documents to the Informal Hearing Officer. 

If you requested either an in person or telephonic hearing, the Order will tell you to submit the following information: a proposed location for the hearing, when you would like the hearing to take place and the amount of time you anticipate the hearing will last. You may also receive an Order telling you to provide exhibits and a witness list.  The Informal Hearing Officer will send you a Notice of Hearing which will provide the date, time, and location for the informal hearing.

PREPARING FOR THE HEARING

Make a list of all the information that relates to your case and that you wish to present as evidence. Coordinate filing your evidence with the Department’s attorney.  If you have failed to submit documents to the Hearing Officer and the Department’s attorney prior to the hearing, bring sufficient copies so that you can provide copies to everyone. Late documents may or may not be admitted. Let your witnesses know as soon as possible when the hearing will take place so that they can plan to be there.

AT THE HEARING

Before the presentation of any evidence, the Informal Hearing Officer will explain the procedures that will be followed.  Each party will have an opportunity to present their documents and to question any witnesses.  An audio recording will be made of the hearing.  If you want the hearing transcribed, the cost of the transcript will be at your expense. Should you or any of your witnesses need an interpreter during the hearing, please notify the Department at least ten (10) days before the day of the hearing so an interpreter can be provided.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

No ex parte communications are permitted during this proceeding. That means neither you nor the Department’s attorney may communicate independently with the Informal Hearing Officer about your case.

If there is information you would like the Informal Hearing Officer to have, you may file the document with the Hearing Officer and provide a copy to the Department’s attorney.  You may also file a written request for a prehearing conference call with the Informal Hearing Officer and provide a copy of the written request to the Department’s attorney.  Please reference your case number on all correspondence you submit regarding your hearing.

Timely notify the Department’s attorney and the Informal Hearing Officer if you would like to reschedule the informal hearing or other proceeding, or modify an existing order.  If you fail to attend the informal hearing, a Recommended Order may be issued without any testimony or other evidence provided by you.

AFTER THE HEARING

You and the Department’s attorney will each have the opportunity to submit Proposed Recommended Orders (also called Written Report and Recommendation) which are your written statements of how you think the case should be decided.  However, you are not required to submit a Proposed Recommended Order. In any event, the Informal Hearing Officer will set a time period in which the Proposed Recommended Orders must be submitted, and they must be filed directly with the Hearing Officer with a copy sent to the Department’s attorney. 

The Informal Hearing Officer will review the Proposed Recommended Order submitted by you and the Department’s attorney.  The Informal Hearing Officer will issue a Recommended Order, which is the Informal Hearing Officer's recommendation to the Department as to how the matter should be resolved based on the law and the evidence presented at the hearing.  The Department will issue a Final Order, which is the final decision of the Department, within 90 days of the hearing.

If you disagree with the Final Order, you may appeal the Final Order to a Florida District Court of Appeal in the manner provided in the Notice of Right to Judicial Review that will be attached to the Final Order.

This document is provided as a general overview of the informal hearing procedure as conducted by the Department of Financial Services.  It is not meant to include all circumstances that may arise, nor is it to be construed as legal advice. If you have questions regarding the informal hearing procedure, you should seek advice from an attorney that you hire. You may communicate with the Department’s attorney assigned to your case only on procedural matters.  Keep in mind that the Department’s attorney does not represent you and cannot give you legal advice.

OPTION 2: REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN A FORMAL (DISPUTED) HEARING BEFORE THE DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

If you dispute the facts in a denial letter or other charging document, click on the following link to read how the Division of Administrative Hearings explains the administrative hearing process in Florida under Chapter 120, Florida Statutes:  http://www.doah.state.fl.us/ALJ/RepYourself.pdf.

It is important to remember that the information presented on this page is general and is intended to cover the usual situation. The explanations do not cover all of the possible situations which may arise in a case. You should also consult the rules of DOAH (Parts I and II of Chapter 28-106, Florida Administrative Code).

Suspension & Revocation

Immediate suspension

The department shall, upon receipt of information or an indictment, immediately temporarily suspend a license or appointment when the licensee is charged with a felony enumerated in subsection 626.207(3), F.S. Such suspension shall continue if the licensee is found guilty of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, the crime, regardless of whether a judgment or conviction is entered, during a pending appeal. A person may not transact insurance business after suspension of his or her license or appointment. [See subsection 626.611(2), F.S.]

Note: Bail bond agents are governed by subsection 648.45(1), F.S.

Suspension

If your insurance license is suspended in accordance with an Order issued by the Division of Legal Services, you will receive notification from the Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of Licensing that your insurance license has been suspended along with any appointments associated with the license.

Pursuant to section 626.641, F.S. as a suspended licensee you shall not:

  • Engage in or attempt or profess to engage in any transaction or business for which a license or appointment is required under the Florida Insurance Code.
  • Directly or indirectly own, control, or be employed in any manner by any insurance agent or agency or adjuster or adjusting firm.
  • Serve as an officer or director of, or remain listed on any corporate records as an officer or director of, an insurance agency or adjusting firm.
  • Be named on or affiliated with any bank account that relates in any manner to an insurance agent or agency or adjuster or adjusting firm.

Please note that an insurance license and/or appointment is valid only for the person named and it is not transferrable to another person. You may not allow any other person to transact insurance by utilizing the license or appointment that was issued to you by the department. See: 626.441, F.S.

After your suspension period has ended, you will be able to file an application for reinstatement of licensure; however, your application is subject to the same conditions as a first time applicant. The department will not re-instate a license if the same circumstances for which the license was suspended still exist or are likely to re-occur. 626.641(2), F.S.

If you knowingly transact insurance or otherwise engage in insurance activities in this state without a license, or while your licenses are suspended you are committing a felony of the third degree. Please see: 626.112(9), F.S.

If you ever have your license suspended, you must file a reinstatement application via MyProfile, submit new fingerprints (if previous fingerprint results are over 1 year old) and pay the applicable application and fingerprint processing fees at time of application. If your license is suspended, you are required to reveal the administrative action on the reinstatement application or be subject to additional administrative action.

Revocation

If your insurance license are revoked in accordance with an Order issued by the Division of Legal Services, you will receive notification from the Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of Licensing that your insurance license has been revoked along with any appointments associated with the license.

Pursuant to section 626.641, F.S., if your license is revoked, you shall not:

  • Have the right to apply to the Department for another license under the Florida Insurance Code within two (2) years of the effective date of the revocation.
  • Engage in or attempt or profess to engage in any transaction or business for which a license or appointment is required under the Florida Insurance Code.
  • Directly or indirectly own, control, or be employed in any manner by any insurance agent or agency or adjuster or adjusting firm.
  • Serve as an officer or director of, or remain listed on any corporate records as an officer or director of, an insurance agency or adjusting firm.
  • Be named on or affiliated with any bank account that relates in any manner to an insurance agent or agency or adjuster or adjusting firm.

Once your license and/or appointments have been revoked by the Department, you are prohibited from engaging in or attempting or professing to engage in any transaction or business for which a license or appointment is required under the Florida Insurance Code or directly or indirectly own, control, or be employed in any manner by any insurance agent or agency or adjuster or adjusting firm. Hence, you will also be prohibited from being an owner, officer (corporate records), name on bank accounts, etc. These prohibitions can only be removed if you apply for, and are granted by the Department, a similar license under the Florida Insurance Code.

If you knowingly transact insurance or otherwise engage in insurance activities in this state without a license, or while your license is revoked, you are committing a felony of the third degree.

If a person has ever had a bail bond agent license revoked, they may not apply for another bail bond license. See 626.641, F.S. and 648.49, F.S.

Use of Designations

A designation is any combination of words, any acronym standing for a combination of words or any job title that indicates or implies that you have special knowledge or training in advising or servicing consumers beyond the knowledge or training required for the license you hold. Examples of some of the most well known designations are Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU).

A certification is any designation that indicates, implies or recognizes that you or your organization meets certain established criteria beyond the criteria required for the license held.

In order to protect consumers from dishonest, deceptive, misleading, and fraudulent trade practices with respect to the use of certifications and professional designations in the marketing, solicitation, negotiation, sale or advice given in connection with an insurance transaction by any licensee, Florida Administrative Rule 69B-215.235 was promulgated.

It prohibits:

  • The use of a designation by a person who has not actually earned or is otherwise ineligible to use such designation;
  • The use of a nonexistent or self-conferred designation;
  • The use of a designation that indicates or implies a level of occupational qualifications obtained through education, training, or experience that the person using the designation does not have; and
  • A designation may not be used unless the designation is obtained from an organization that has published standards and procedures for assuring the competency of its certificate holders or designees on specific subject matters, which standards and procedures are continually utilized by the organization. The organization or entity conferring the designation must approve any terminology, combination of words and/or acronym to be used by the designee.

Want to stay up to date on compliance matters?

Read the division's online newsletter, Insurance Insights, which includes valuable information for agents, adjusters and agencies about what's happening in Florida's market and trends we're seeing. If you're a licensee with a valid email address on file, you will be e-mailed when new issues have been published. However, you can always read the latest issue, as well as past issues, on our website. Click below to read!

Read our division's newsletter, Insurance Insights