Regulators advanced a consumer alert and insurer and producer bulletin that strives to curb the use of senior designations backed with lax educational requirements.

The action occurred during a discussion of the Life Insurance “A” Committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo. The bulletin will be on the plenary agenda for the summer NAIC meeting for possible full adoption.

And, separately, the “A” committee also has begun to develop an actuarial guideline that would establish requirements for minimum cash surrender values for term life insurance products providing return of premium intermediate endowment benefits and other similar benefits.

The consumer alert warns seniors about “free-lunch seminars” which offer seniors a free meal and which are often tied to a product sales pitch. The alert also advises senior consumers to question the credentials of experts who hold themselves out to be senior advisors.

The insurer and producer bulletin applies to the marketing and sales of fixed and variable life insurance and annuities and requires the proper use of designations by producers. The bulletin also notes that insurance companies are responsible for the advertising of their products whether by the company or producer, and designations are part of such advertisements.

And, it states that “any producer who advertises himself or herself as holding special status due to training or advanced education must provide documentation of expertise, such as a course syllabus and proof of successful completion of the course of study or training.”

The discussion led by Eric Dinallo, New York superintendent and “A” Committee chair, looked at issues about whether the bulletin was worded strongly enough and whether regulators should adopt the bulletin or continue work on it and adopt it at a later point.

Jim Mumford, first deputy commissioner with the Iowa insurance department, said he thought that the wording of the bulletin needed to be stronger and it did not set a real standard noting that just documenting a program of study did not necessarily make it a valid program of senior coursework.

Dinallo said that he agreed that “we should not walk away from the designation issue,” but also wondered whether the bulletin should be issued and then additional pieces of the designation issue be addressed later if necessary.

Sean Dilweg, Wisconsin insurance commissioner and “A” Committee vice chair, said that it is important for regulators to take action and that the bulletin would be a base which states could customize as they saw fit. He noted the work of Sen. Herb Cole, D-Wisc., who has taken up the cause of senior designations.

David Leifer, associate general counsel with the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, urged regulators to use a model being developed by the North American Securities Administrators Association, Washington.

Speaking of the need for uniformity, he said, “I worried that the 50 states are testing standards or course curriculum that could be a mess for everyone.”