IIABA May Go To Court Over FCCs Do Not Call Regs

By

Washington

The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America may go to court to try to overturn new Federal Communications Commission regulations subjecting the insurance industry to “do not call” telemarketing requirements. (See NU, Aug. 4.)

“We are fully prepared to file a lawsuit if necessary,” says Maria Berthoud, senior vice president of federal affairs for the IIABA.

Currently, she says, IIABA is looking at the possibility of a legislative solution. Agents, Berthoud says, are forming a coalition with realtors and other professionals who are affected by the FCCs “do not call” regulation.

In addition, she says, IIABA is launching a grass-roots effort, asking agents to contact their members of Congress to express their opposition.

Berthoud notes that in addition to a requirement that agents and others affected by the new regulation check a “do not call” list before contacting a prospect with whom there is no prior business relationship, the FCC also establishes a “do not fax” requirement.

The “do not fax” provision does not allow anyone to send unsolicited fax messages, even if the recipient does have a preexisting business relationship, Berthoud notes.

The “do not fax” provision, she says, is at least as important to agents as the “do not call” provision.

In addition to its legislative and possible legal activities, IIABA urged FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell in a letter to reconsider the regulation, particularly the fax ban.

“A ban would severely undermine the progress our members have developed within their business practices, impede their continuing education, inhibit their ability to remain appraised of upcoming events and create a wrecking ball of unintended and unnecessary consequences in the insurance and financial services delivery system,” IIABA says.

During the rulemaking process earlier this year, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors filed formal comments stating that an FCC “do not call” rule is unnecessary because the Federal Trade Commissions rule should be sufficient to solve most abuses.

However, NAIFA said, if FCC did issue a rule, it should contain an exception for small businesses and treat referrals as a business relationship.

National Underwriter tried to contact NAIFA for a comment on the FCCs final rule but could not connect by press time.

The FCCs “do not call” regulation was issued on July 25, 2003, and applies to those industries, including insurance, that are exempt from the FTCs rule.

But the FCCs regulation goes beyond that of the FTC, in that it applies to all calls, both local and interstate. The FTCs regulation applies only to interstate calls.

The FCC also declined to treat a referral as a business relationship.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, August 11, 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.