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NAIC Weighs Agent Licenses That Would Apply Across U.S.

Regulators have begun work on an electronic agent-licensing system that would allow insurance agents to get one license that would allow them to do business in any state.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners could have the system running by September 2001, well before a federal deadline that forces states to provide for uniform or reciprocal agent licensing.

The system would head off the creation of a national licensing board outlined in the new Gramm-Leach-Bliley financial-services law. Under the law, if at least 29 states don't pass uniform or reciprocal licensing laws, the federal government would form the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers.

The system, which mirrors the National Association of Securities Dealers' licensing system, would be funneled through the NAIC's Insurance Regulatory Information Network, which is developing a database of agents.

States have a variety of license laws for resident agents and require nonresidents to obtain several licenses.

"There is no such thing as multi state licensing for producers in the U.S.," said MaryEllen Waggoner, a Colorado regulator who sits on the network's board. "Securities regulators have dealt with it, and while the NASD is not the NAIC, securities dealers have a process for dealing with it."

Before being able to use the network to handle licensing efforts, states would have to enact the NAIC's model licensing law so they could issue nonresident licenses to agents that have licenses from their home states.

Sam Meyer, a South Dakota regulator, said regulators should begin educating legislators about NARAB and about the model law. South Dakota will likely propose agent-licensing legislation next year. "I'd like to suggest that every state needs to do that," he said.

Wes Bissett of the Independent Insurance Agent's Association agreed. The NAIC's proposal would be easier than the NARAB system by providing agents with a one-stop licensing procedure, said Bissett, who sits on the network's board. "The technology part of it is there," he said.

But the legislative part is not. The NAIG didn't adopt its model until late January, so regulators and lobbyists missed an opportunity to get the proposal on most state legislative calendars this year. Some legislatures have already completed their sessions.
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Publication:Best's Review
Date:May 1, 2000
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