Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee members voted unanimously Wednesday to approve S.B. 1372, a life insurance and annuity marketing bill.

The bill, S.B. 1372, would change the rules governing sales of life insurance and annuities to consumers ages 65 and older.

State Sen. Michael Bennett, R-Bradenton, Fla., has introduced S.B. 1372.

The House version of the bill, H.B. 141, was introduced by state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, Fla.

The bill has the support of Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

The “Safeguard Our Seniors Act” would limit the surrender-charge period for an annuity sold to consumers ages 65 and over to 5 years, while capping surrender charges at 5% of the annuity’s premium. The bill also would extend the “free look” period for seniors buying annuities to 60 days, from 14 days.

In addition, the bill would re-classify cases of “churning” involves victims ages 65 and older.

If an agent persuaded an older consumer to replace an existing product solely to generate commission revenue, the act would be treated as a felony. Today, Florida classifies twisting as a misdemeanor.

The bill would require the revocation of the license of any agent who was found by the Department of Financial Services to have fraudulently sold an insurance or annuity product to a senior.

Another bill provision would require insurers to provide information to consumers about the free-look period.

The bill is needed because, in the past 3 years, the number of complaints from Florida seniors about annuities has nearly quadrupled, Sink says.