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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (Photo: Wisconsin)

Life Health > Annuities > Fixed Annuities

Wisconsin Governor Signs Annuity Suitability Update Bill

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What You Need to Know

  • The Evers administration says the new Act 260 law will add consumer protections.
  • He has also signed an elder insurance fraud penalty bill.
  • Hawaii has a similar bill awaiting action in the House.

Wisconsin has become the 23rd state to adopt the new annuity sales standards created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed S.B. 644 into law Friday.

The new law created by the signing, Act 260, will require annuity sellers to act in the best interest of the customers. The law is set to take effect in six months.

The current sales standards require annuity sellers to verify that the annuities offered to a customer suit the customer’s needs.

Evers administration officials noted that the new law will require an annuity seller to disclose any material conflict of interest and to document justifications for product recommendations in writing.

“This law provides additional consumer protections by creating a higher standard for selling annuities,” officials say.

The American Council of Life Insurers, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and the Wisconsin Council of Life Insurers put out a statement welcoming the signing of the bill.

Evers also signed S.B. 588, a bill that increases the forfeiture amount for violations of insurance laws involving adults ages 60 or older, or adults at risk, to $5,000 per violation. In the past, the forfeiture amount was $1,000 per violation.

The History

The NAIC developed the best interest-based standard to mesh with the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest.

Regulation Best Interest appears to allow insurers and distributors to continue to pay sales commissions in connection with the sale of nonvariable annuities.

Many consumer groups and financial planner groups would prefer to see regulators move toward the kind of fiduciary standard developed by the Department of Labor during the administration of then-President Barack Obama.

A fiduciary rule could prohibit or sharply limit use of commissions.

The Labor Department canceled efforts to impose a fiduciary rule on annuity issuers during the administration of then-President Donald Trump. Now, under the administration of President Joe Biden, the department is trying to resurrect the fiduciary rule approach.

In a comment about the Act 260 signing, Laura DeGolier, NAIFA’s Wisconsin grassroots chair, cited an analysis suggesting that a fiduciary-only approach could lead to a sharp decrease in consumer savings.

Hawaii

Hawaii could be the 24th state to adopt the NAIC annuity sales rule update.

The Hawaii Senate has passed an updated bill, S.B. 3079. The bill is now under consideration in the Hawaii House.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. (Photo: Wisconsin)