Hawkeye State insurance regulators have given a boost to the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association.

The Iowa Division of Insurance “has determined that it will allocate more market examination resources to monitor and examine life insurance companies that are not members of IMSA,” Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss writes in Iowa Bulletin 06-04.

IMSA, Bethesda, Md., is a group that sets and verifies compliance with standards for the sale of individual life insurance, long term care insurance and annuities.

Companies that join IMSA must go through an initial review process and then undergo follow-up reviews every 3 years.

Insurance regulatory agencies in at least 7 states have officially encouraged insurers under their jurisdiction to join IMSA. Iowa officially began encouraging Iowa companies to join in 2005.

Now, “the division has determined that an insurance company that is a member of IMSA is at less risk to be in violation of Iowa laws and regulations concerning the sale of life insurance and annuity products,” Voss writes in the new bulletin.

The IMSA membership review process, 3-year recertification process and certification process for independent assessors all help support the division’s belief in the value of IMSA certification, Voss writes.

Although the Iowa division will focus more examination resources on non-IMSA members, IMSA companies remain subject to market examinations as warranted, Voss writes.

“We are pleased the Iowa Insurance Division has determined that a company’s IMSA qualification can be a useful tool,” IMSA President Brian Atchinson says in a statement. “Iowa regulators are to be commended for carefully considering whether a company truly maintains policies and procedures to protect consumers and promote ethical business practices.”