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CFO Patronis Deploys Safeguard for Employing Insurance Agents During COVID-19 Crisis

4/17/2020

For Immediate Release: Friday, April 17, 2020
Contact: Office of Communications, Communications@MyFloridaCFO.com, 850.413.2842

CFO Patronis Deploys Safeguard for Employing Insurance Agents During COVID-19 Crisis 
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a directive that provides the Division of Agent and Agency Services with the ability to begin processing insurance agent licenses in a manner that promotes job growth and protects consumers.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “The licensing of insurance agents came to a complete standstill when a testing vendor shut their doors due to COVID-19. This has occurred during a time when insurance agencies are experiencing an uptick in demand. Since insurance is such an important part of Florida’s economy, we wanted to create a process where folks can start working while consumers are still protected.”
 
This directive gives insurance agencies the ability to hire new agents who have completed all the other requirements to obtain a license, but are unable to take the state exam because of this virus. These individuals will be thoroughly vetted by the Division of Agent and Agency Services and if they meet the requirements to obtain a license, the Division would issue applicants a temporary license pending examination.
 
Applicants must pass both criminal and administrative background checks and must have completed state approved pre-licensing insurance education. The directive also provides additional consumer protections by requiring insurers to take full responsibility for the acts of these new licensees. Finally, those who are granted a temporary license pending examination will only be able to work when doing so under the direct supervision of a more seasoned agent.
 
CFO Directive:
 
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
 
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER DIRECTIVE 2020-07
 
WHEREAS, The Executive Office of the Governor issued Executive Order 20-52, granting agency heads certain authority to waive statutory and administrative provisions to the extent strict compliance with such provisions would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the ongoing emergency; and
WHEREAS, the Center for Disease Control has issued certain guidance to employers related to the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), recommending the implementation of social distancing strategies; and
WHEREAS, the Third-Party examination provider contracted by the Department of Financial Services to provide examinations has closed all examination centers in response to the directives from the Center for Disease Control; and
WHEREAS, Section 626.221, Florida Statutes provides examination requirements for certain insurance agent licenses; and
WHEREAS, compliance with the examination requirement is not possible given the current closure of all examination centers; and
WHEREAS, many applicants completed all licensure requirements except for the examinations required under section 626.221, Florida Statutes, prior to closure of the testing centers; and 
WHEREAS, it is currently possible for applicants for certain agent license types to complete all other statutory requirements besides the examination; and
WHEREAS, continued delay in the issuance of insurance agent licenses creates a negative impact on Florida’s economy and the personal finances of its citizens.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT I, JIMMY PATRONIS, as Chief Financial Officer of Florida, by virtue of the authorities delegated to me by the Governor pursuant to his powers under Chapter 252, Florida Statutes, promulgate the following Directive to take immediate effect:
Section 1. In order to afford flexibility to applicants for insurance agent licensure who are otherwise qualified for issuance of a Florida insurance agent license, but impacted by the closure of authorized examination sites, the examination requirements provided in Section 626.221, Florida Statutes, are hereby suspended. In lieu of requiring compliance with the examination requirement, the Department of Financial Services will issue temporary licenses to Florida residents in the following classifications:  Health Agent, as provided in Section 626.015(8), Florida Statutes, Life Agent, as provided in Section  626.015(12), Florida Statutes, and  Personal Lines Agent, as provided in Section 626.015(17), Florida Statutes.
Section 2. Issuance of a temporary license as provided in Section 1. shall be dependent upon applicants meeting all other requirements of the Florida Insurance Code, including but not limited to:            
a. The application requirements in Section 626.171, Florida Statutes;
b. The fingerprinting requirements in Section 626.202, Florida Statutes;
c. The criminal history requirements in Section 626.207, Florida Statutes;
d. The background requirements in Sections 626.611 and 626.621, Florida Statutes;
e. The requirement as to knowledge, experience, or instruction for the license applied for, as noted in Sections 626.732, 626.7851, and 626.8311, Florida Statutes, as applicable.
Section 3. The holder of a temporary license issued pursuant to this order shall be appointed by a sponsoring insurer which assumes responsibility for all acts of the temporary licensee and may only solicit insurance under the direct supervision of a licensed and appointed insurance agent authorized to sell the type of insurance being solicited.
Section 4. All temporary licenses issued pursuant to this order shall expire six months after the date on which it is issued or upon issuance of permanent license of the same type and class, whichever occurs first.
Section 5. Should a holder of a temporary license violate any provision of the Florida Insurance Code while licensed pursuant to this order, the Department shall immediately revoke such temporary license.
Section 6. The Department shall cease issuing temporary licenses pursuant to this order 14 days from the date upon which at least half of the examination centers reopen, or upon expiration of Executive Order 20-52, including any extensions thereto, which ever occurs sooner.
 
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand
and caused the Great Seal of the State of Florida to be
affixed, this 17th day of April, 2020.
 
Signed, Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
 
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis 
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).