The Insurance Marketplace Standards Association is setting up a clearinghouse program that will help life insurers keep tabs on outside annuity distributors.

IMSA, Bethesda, Md., says the new certification program will give life insurers the information they need to make sure third-party annuity distributors meet suitability compliance standards.

The clearinghouse is scheduled to go live Jan. 1, 2008.

The clearinghouse program will establish “an ownership and responsibility for everyone along the distribution channel” to ensure suitability, says IMSA Chief Executive Brian Atchinson.

The clearinghouse is an IMSA response to the Suitability in Annuity Transactions model regulation developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.

Legislatures and regulators have adopted the model in 30 states, according to IMSA.

The model regulation requires life insurance companies that delegate suitability supervisory responsibilities to third-party distributors to get annual certifications from those distributors, IMSA says.

IMSA member companies will pay a yet-to-be-determined fee to participate in the clearinghouse, and non-IMSA members will pay a slightly higher fee, Atchinson says.

The certifications will be housed in a Web-based system.

In related news, IMSA has elected a new board of directors.

The group’s new chairman is David Odenath, president of the annuity group at Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J.

The new chairman-elect is Scott Curtis, a senior vice president at a unit of Raymond James Financial Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla.