Volume 1, No. 8 - November 2010
In The Know
- Keeping you informed is what it's all about

Reminder: Legislation Effective January 1, 2011
On January 1, 2011, the bill language of CS/CS/SB 2176 that was passed during the 2010 legislative session will become effective. This legislation includes the Safeguard Our Seniors Act, which enhances penalties for unethical annuity sales practices as well as provides certain consumer protections who purchase annuity contracts, some specifically for seniors (age 65 or older). These include the following:

  • Increases the financial penalty for the willful act of "twisting" or "churning" of an annuity to a maximum of $75,000.
  • Limits the period of a surrender charge for an annuity sold to a senior consumer to 10 years and limits the surrender charge to 10 percent.
  • Extends the "free look" period for the purchase of an annuity by a senior consumer from 14 to 21 days.
  • Authorizes the Department of Financial Services to require an agent to make monetary restitution to a senior consumer harmed by a violation of the insurance code under certain circumstances.
  • Includes a third party marketer that aids and abets an insurance agent in the violation of the insurance code involving an annuity sale to a senior consumer as an affiliated party of the insurance agent, bringing that marketer under the regulatory authority of the department.
  • Gives the department authority to take license disciplinary action against an agent who has been disciplined under his or her securities license or a related license.
  • Prohibits the department from issuing a license to a former licensee who has had his or her license revoked resulting from the solicitation or sale of an insurance product to a senior consumer.
  • Extends the prohibition on a life insurance agent being the beneficiary of a life insurance policy sold to someone other than the agent's family member by including the agent's family members within the prohibition and by prohibiting the agent, or the agent's family member, from serving as a guardian, trustee, or having power of attorney over the insured.
  • Requires an insurer to provide a cover sheet attached to the policy when an annuity is issued informing the purchaser about the free look period and about how to contact the agent, insurer, and the department if they have questions about the annuity.
  • Allows the use of video depositions in administrative hearings involving a senior consumer and requires compliance with the Rules of Civil Procedure.

It is highly recommended you brief yourself if this impacts the line(s) you transact. This legislation also adds to the list of applicants for a customer representative license who are exempt from the state licensing examination to include individuals with the designation of Certified Insurance Representative from the National Association of Christian Catastrophe Insurance Adjusters.
[See Chapter 2010-175, Laws of Florida]

Keeping Your Clients' Confidential Information Confidential
We'd like to remind licensees that business equipment, particularly digital copiers and fax machines have hard drives - like the one on your personal computer - which can contain tons of data and images with sensitive and confidential information about your clients (social security numbers, bank account numbers and other financial information, medical records, medication histories, etc.). Getting a hold of the equipment's hard drive could be the one thing someone aiming to commit identity theft needs. We highly suggest that you make certain this information is destroyed or scrubbed before selling or returning the equipment to a leasing firm. Many of the major manufacturers offer security or encryption packages on their products. Protect yourself and your clients.

Rebates are Taxable Income
The Tax Court, following prior precedent, has ruled, in Rickard v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2010-159, that an insured realizes income to the extent of the value of insurance coverage measured by the amount of the first year's premium allegedly "paid" by their agent, who in turn received from the insured a promissory note in the approximate amount of that agent-paid premium. The court held that the note did not represent a valid indebtedness and thus was "illusory." Agents violating the rebating and free insurance statutes to give people fully paid life insurance have created a huge liability for the unwitting consumers that have participated in these scams. It's possible that consumers are sitting on enormous unpaid tax bills as a result of this IRS ruling.
[See Rickard v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2010-159]

Bail Bond Agents and Weapon Permits
Neither the temporary bail bond agent license nor the limited surety (bail bond) agent license authorize a person to carry a weapon. The Florida Statutes do not specifically address bail bond agents using weapons while working.

Weapon permits are issued through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). These permits are issued to qualifying citizens of the state of Florida. You will need to follow the laws related to the issuance of these permits, which include not carrying your weapon in certain locations [See ss. 790.06(12), Florida Statutes, for a complete listing]. You may want to direct any questions you have regarding these permits to DACS. Their web site is http://www.freshfromflorida.com/.