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The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is now warning more types of consumers against more types of financial services seminars — and giving consumers specific advice about how to avoid making quick decisions they’ll regret later.

The group has agreed to replace a 2008 consumer alert that advises seniors to beware of “free lunch” seminars with an alert that advises all consumers to “be skeptical” about all types of free meal seminars.

The NAIC is a Kansas City, Missouri-based group for the top insurance regulators in U.S. states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Members approved the consumer alert change last week, at the group’s fall national meeting in Honolulu.

(Related: Retirement Seminar Alert: No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (or Dinner or Brunch)

The new version of the alert notes that consumers might receive invitations to seminars “about financial, retirement, or estate planning.”

The old version simply noted that the seminars might promote “financial products” aimed at capturing their savings.

Both the old version and the new version warning consumers against making final decisions about products at seminars.

The new version gives more concrete advice about how consumers can avoid giving in to high-pressure sales tactics.

“Decide before you go that you won’t give out any personal information, sign any documents, or make any decisions while you’re there, the NAIC says in the new alert. “Leave your checkbook at home and consider getting a second opinion.”

An NAIC committee included a copy of the new version of the alert starting on page 103 of this PDF file.

A copy of the old alert is available here.

The Alert History

The NAIC developed the old version of the notice in 2008, around the same time it developed Model Number 278, the “Model Regulation on the Use of Senior-Specific Certifications and Professional Designations in the Sale of Life Insurance Annuities.”

States can choose whether and how to use NAIC model alerts to develop their own alerts. Some of the states that now have versions of the 2008 consumer alert on their websites include New York state, Virginia and Wisconsin.

An NAIC team, the Promoting Appropriate Sales Practices in Life Insurance Annuities, began working on the update in January. 

It’s not clear how many states will post the new alert, or how influential it will be. Especially in states in which the alert update gets widespread attention, financial professionals who market through seminars may need to come up with strategies for encouraging attendees to make contact after the seminar is over.

—Read 3 Things to Know About the Fiduciary Rule’s Little Brother on ThinkAdvisor.


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