According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, only 17 states require fingerprints before approving hopeful producers with an insurance license. The states that perform less extensive background checks may be handing out licenses to less-than-favorable characters, Insurance Journal reports. In a recent survey by that magazine, of 26 state insurance departments, 11 say they use fingerprinting to weed out the really bad eggs. Of those 11, all of them say it has “definitely helped them identify producer hopefuls who have served prison time or had notable run-ins with the law.”
“Someone who has committed a felony probably wouldn’t be shy about lying on a licensing application,” Insurance Journal points out. “Indeed, states find that the more extensive background reports turn up all sorts of crimes and misdemeanors that applicants forgot they had committed, mistakenly assumed had been removed from their record, or believed were too minor to have to report.”
And horror stories are widespread. Officials from various state insurance offices shared how they denied licenses to reprobates with a history of embezzlement to violent crime thanks to fingerprints.
On the bright side, eliminating degenerate producers before they earn a license has given a huge bump to retention rates. Insurance Journal quotes Ron Gallagher, deputy insurance commissioner in Pennsylvania: “We believe candidates are more invested in the market and come with higher credentials, traits that better serve the market and consumers.”