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Public criticism over the sale of corporate-owned life insurance has regulators reexamining how the product is regulated.

As a starting point, a 10-year old guideline (Model 602 of NAIC model laws) developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., will be reexamined and possibly revamped.

However, regulators who are part of the NAICs COLI working group, have left open the possibility of developing a whole new model law that states can adopt to enforce how the product is sold and disclosed.

The working groups chairman, North Dakota Commissioner Jim Poolman, says the issue of affirmative consent, or an employee giving the employer the OK to purchase COLI on the employees life, should be a top priority.

According to the NAIC, fewer than half of the states require the affirmative consent of an employee. Fifteen states do require it and five states have an opt-out provision in which an employee must say it is not all right for a company to purchase COLI in order to prevent the firm from buying a life insurance contract on his life.

Other findings, according to the NAIC, are that most states require an insurable interest at the time coverage becomes effective; and laws in half of the states allow coverage to be maintained on non-management and retired employees.

The issue of affirmative consent being required for a Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association Trust contract which is being used as an irrevocable component of a 501c3 trust was raised by the industry, but regulators responded that even with the issue of irrevocability, at the very least, some sort of notification would seem appropriate.

Notice and consent should be part of the process, which is a stand that the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors has taken, according to Bill Anderson, vice president and associate general counsel with NAIFA, Falls Church, Va.

The “surprise factor” that occurs when a spouse finds out that a policy has been taken out on a deceased husband or wife, underscores the need for notification and consent, says John Pouliot, a regulator with the Ohio insurance department.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, July 29, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.