In order to increase the efficiency of agent licensing and renewals, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (Trenton,NJ)-which currently handles licensingthrough the use of a 20-year-old system-will offer online licensing capabilities by participating in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' (NAIC) State Based Systems (SBS) program.
State insurance departments "need to make technology advances for the purposes of efficiency," says Lee Barry, assistant commissioner, consumer protection services, New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. "New Jersey became the first pilot state working with the NAIC to update our database and other systems that are responsible for licensing agents." With the existing system, agents applying for or renewing licenses with the department have to do so by telephone or via fax. Once the initiative is complete, agents and brokers will be able to apply for, renew and facilitate certification for licensing in other states, according to Barry. Users also will be able to check the status of their licensing requests online.
As part of the project's rollout, "New Jersey department legacy information must be migrated to databases that lend themselves to the new electronic system," explains Barry. "The database housing New Jersey's information will be maintained by the NAIC." Members of the department that need to access the data will do so via a Web-based interface that is similar to what the agents will use once the system implementation is complete, says Barry.
Delaware, Rhode Island and Washington DC will also participate in the NAIC's SBS. Notes Barry, "New Jersey's licensing laws are similar to those of the other participating states." States participating in SBS can choose to host SBS themselves or have the NAIC host the application on its servers. The system is being developed with Aithent Inc. (New York) and is designed to use open standards that work with Sybase, Oracle, or SQL Server databases and a variety of Web servers, according to the NAIC. SBS is also able to incorporate technologies such as electronic fund transfer and digital fingerprinting into the system. In order to participate in the SBS initiative, states must pay an initial implementation fee plus an annual maintenance fee for on-site user training and technical support.