In a move that is likely to cause other insurance regulatory bodies to follow suit, the New York State Insurance Department has issued the insurance industry's first set of guidelines for online advertisements, referrals and solicitations.
"There is a lot of confusion in the area of e-commerce and we receive many inquiries about what licensees and non-licensees can and cannot do online," says Audrey Samers, first deputy general counsel, New York State Insurance Department (New York). "We wanted to provide insurers, agents and brokers a guideline to market products over the Internet."
In fact, says Jon Bidwell, senior vice president, Chubb Group of Insurance Compa-nies (Warren, NJ, $23.5 billion in assets), "There was confusion on what types of content or advertisement could be placed on a third-party site," he says. "In terms of being able to negotiate compensation deals, there was a lot of confusion on what was permitted." Bidwell helped advise the department on rules regulating online operations.
For instance, operating a Web site that contains advertisements about insurance products is not considered solicitation in New York. Non-licensees hosting advertisements may receive compensation as long as the advertisements do not contain endorsements, promotions or recommendations of the non-licensee, according to the guidelines in Department of Insurance Circular Letter No. 5.
Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio