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Ask the expert: Agency licensing for settlements

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The question was: If I work for an insurance agency that also occasionally brokers viatical or life settlements, and I have an individual settlement broker’s license in a state, does my company also need to be licensed as a settlement broker in that state too?

The answer is: Generally, the answer is yes. Keeping in mind that insurance departments are more familiar with insurance products than they are with life settlements, a good guideline to use is, if an insurance agency would need a license in a state in order to conduct business, then it will likely need to be licensed as a settlements broker to engage in that business.

Because life settlements laws are an inconsistent patchwork, you should always check with the pertinent state’s department of insurance or your legal counsel for specific requirements. If you are told that your agency does not have to be licensed in a particular state, be sure to get it in writing in case the next regulator who looks at the issue reaches a different conclusion.

Fortunately, in many states getting registered as a settlements broker is quick and easy. In so-called “producer authority” states, if the agency is already registered with the state department of insurance, little more than a notice filing and a small fee is required. In other states, however, the process is considerably more onerous.

Bottom line: You should always check license and registration requirements before you broker a policy from a state. It can prevent major headaches for you and your agency down the road.

James W. Maxson, Esq.
Of Counsel
Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP
Atlanta, Georgia 30326
[email protected]