Agents, Insurers Applaud Stay Of Do-Not-Fax Rule
A decision by the Federal Communications Commission to delay enforcement of a rule prohibiting the sending of unsolicited faxes that may be deemed advertisements was greeted with relief by groups representing agents and insurers.
The rule, which would have required signed written permission from recipients before such a fax could be sent, had been scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 25, 2003. But it was stayed until Jan. 1, 2005, after an uproar by businesses and their trade associations, which objected to the intrusion on their ability to send faxes to clients with whom they have an “existing business relationship.”
The original FCC do-not-fax rule issued in 1992 contained an exception permitting unsolicited advertising faxes to recipients with whom the seller does business on a regular basis.
Patrick Watts, assistant vice president of the Downers Grove, Ill.-based Alliance of American Insurers, notes that the rule would hamper insurers from communicating new coverage and other useful announcements to policyholders.
“If a client has a homeowners policy and the insurer wants to fax a suggestion that the client also have a personal umbrella policy, that could be deemed an advertisement barred by the rule,” Watts says.
Watts also points out that every insurer fax with a logo or blurb touting the companys products or services conceivably could be considered an advertisement and therefore subject to the rule.
Agent groups were also enthusiastic about the stay but cautioned that it is only a temporary fix.
“The FCC apparently has come to its senses on this issue,” says Patricia Borowski, senior vice president of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents in Washington.
Borowski emphasizes that the do-not-fax rule conflicts with agents obligation under insurance law to advise their clients on risk assessment issues.