Industry Concerned About FCCs Do-Not-Call Rule

By

Washington

A new Federal Communications Commission rule establishing its own version of a telemarketing do-not-call list is causing concern in the insurance industry.

Jack Dolan, a spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, says ACLI is evaluating the rule very closely right now but has made no firm decision on what, if anything, to do in response.

“We recognize this is very important to consumers and to our ability to service our customers,” Dolan says.

The issue involves a do-not-call list that is similar to the one developed by the Federal Trade Commission, except that unlike the FTCs list, the FCCs list directly covers the insurance industry.

Thus, under the FCCs do-not-call requirement, insurance companies and agents would have to check the do-not-call list before trying to contact a prospect with which the agent does not have a business relationship.

Moreover, under the FCCs rule, a referral is not considered a business relationship. Thus, even if a company or agent has a referral, the caller would have to check the list and would not be allowed to make a call if the prospect is listed.

Also, the FCCs rule is more expansive than the FTCs. While the FTCs do-not-call requirements only affect interstate calls, the FCCs rule applies to all calls.

The FCC says it considered providing an exemption for local solicitations and small businesses but determined that an exemption was inappropriate due to the technological tools now available to small entities.

In addition, under the FCCs rule, those who have a business relationship with a client would have to maintain their own do-not-call lists. If the client subsequently decides that he or she does not want to receive any more calls from the agent, the business would have to put the former client on the do-not-call list.

In the rule, the FCC specifically rejects formal comments submitted by the ACLI that the rule intrudes upon the regulatory framework established by the states and thus should not apply to insurers under the McCarran-Ferguson Act.

FCC says the McCarran-Ferguson Act does not exempt insurers wholesale from the Telephone Consumers Protection Act, the legislative linchpin of the regulation.

“We believe that the TCPA, which was enacted to protect consumer privacy interests, is compatible with states regulatory interests,” FCC says. “To exempt the insurance industry from liability under TCPA would likely confuse consumers and interfere with the protections provided by Congress through TCPA.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, August 4, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.