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Regulation and Compliance > State Regulation

Iowa Saves State Fair Novelty Giveaways

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The Iowa Insurance Division says insurers and producers can give pens, keychains and other items away at the Iowa State Fair this summer after all.

The division put the fate of many, many boxes of insurance company and agency logo novelties in jeopardy in June, by releasing tough new anti-rebating language in Iowa Bulletin 08-11.

Because of the difficulty officials have had with defining the term “rebate,” “any goods or services offered to a policyholder or prospective policyholder which are not specifically incorporated as part of the policy contract and made a part of the pricing of the policy are rebates and therefore are prohibited under Iowa law,” Iowa officials write in the bulletin.

In theory, Iowa officials write in a new bulletin, the new interpretation of Iowa’s anti-rebating laws prohibits state fair novelty distributions.

But “the division recognizes that it is a common business practice for many in the insurance business to sponsor booths at the Iowa State Fair and other fairs throughout the state,” officials write in the new bulletin. “Often these booths do little more than establish name recognition for the sponsor as the booth’s staff distributes box after box of the low-cost mass giveaway items that are as traditional as food on a stick over the course of the fair’s run.

Bulletin 08-11 came out too late for the fair exhibitors to anticipate the change in novelty distribution rules, officials write.

“Therefore,” officials write, “the division will not take administrative action for the mass distribution of traditional giveaway items at the state’s fairs this summer.”


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