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New York Governor Vetoes Producer Continuing Ed Bill

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New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, has vetoed a bill that could have helped the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and other insurance producer groups support their policy analysis and producer education operations.

The bill, Senate Bill 4365, would let insurance agents and brokers use active membership in groups like NAIFA to provide three hours of continuing education credit.

(Related: Life Agents Face Internal Awareness Threat: Marvin Feldman)

New York state Sen. Neil Breslin, is a Democrat who represents Albany, New York. The bill passed 62-0 in the state Senate June 4, and it passed 146-0 in the Assembly June 18. At press time, Cuomo had not given an explanation of the veto.

Cuomo vetoed a similar bill in 2018, on the ground that the previous bill would have given a producer too much credit for being an active member of a professional association. The bill vetoed in 2018 would have given a producer six hours of credit for participating in a qualified professional association.

S. 4365

To qualify for association-membership-related credits, a producer would have to attend at least one continuing education-certified educational meeting, presentation or conference sponsored by a qualifying producer group.

The producer group would have to be a statewide groups that has been in existence for at least 10 years, provides a professional publication that’s issued at least four times per year, and that provides at least six educational documents per year, or provides at least 12 educational documents per year from another organization.

Producers in New York state now must earn 15 credits of continuing education during each two-year licensing period, according Phillip Held, president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors-New York State Inc. (NAIFA-NYS).

Held’s Argument for the Bill

Held wrote in a letter urging Cuomo to sign S. 4365 that the continuing education courses must come from providers approved by the New York Department of Financial Services. Held told Cuomo that NAIFA-NYS is a certified provider of New York state continuing education instruction.

By granting continuing education credits for belonging to a qualified association, “this bill encourages membership and active participation in these associations’ meetings, conferences and educational seminars to the benefit of New York state, the insurance industry, insurance producers, and the public, and provides consumers with increased access to better qualified insurance advisors,” Held wrote in the letter supporting the bill.

A property and casualty producers’ group, the Professional Insurance Agents of New York (PIANY), has also been supporting the bill.

Pressure from Low Rates

Cuomo’s veto comes at a time when prolonged low interest rates have hurt life insurers’ ability to make money to by selling long-duration products such as life insurance, annuities and long-term disability insurance.

Many life insurers have responded by creating non-insurance asset-management arms, which benefit from low interest rates. Some assetmanagement arms may be pulling the parents’ focus away from the insurance community.

In 2017, for example, Marvin Feldman, the former head of the Life Happens outreach group, expressed disappointment about insurers’ level of support for that organization.

The latest Form 990 annual report for NAIFA shows that NAIFA posted a $477,940 gain in 2016 on  $12 million in revenue. But NAIFA lost $669,803 on $11.7 million in revenue in 2015, and produced better results in 2016 by cutting employee compensation to $5.7 million, from $6.8 million.

NAIFA-NYS lost $68,198 in 2016 on $430,875 in revenue, compared with a loss of $204,090 on $371,444 in revenue for 2015.

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