Indiana Insurance License Defense Lawyer
In Indiana, a person or business that sells insurance is officially termed an insurance producer. These individuals and entities must be licensed by the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) in the applicable areas of service. Various events and circumstances can bring an insurance producer’s license under scrutiny, threatening the livelihood and reputation of the insurance professional. When this happens, the best course of action an insurance producer can take is to consult early on with an experienced Indiana insurance license defense lawyer, like the ones at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
Insurance Producers and Indiana Insurance License Defense
Many situations can lead to an insurance producer needing to employ Indiana insurance license defense strategies, and early action can be beneficial for achieving a positive outcome. In fact, making sure everything is done right from the beginning of the Indiana Department of Insurance licensing process is the first step to protecting that license once it is obtained. Mistakes, omissions, or misrepresentations in the application process can come back haunt you later.
Understanding the function, policies, and operation of the IDOI is also important for insurance producers, as is having a general working knowledge of the laws and regulations upon which the IDOI’s authority and practices are based. In addition to setting forth the requirements to obtain a license, these laws and regulations govern the Indiana insurance license renewal process, detail what constitutes a violation, and establish the appropriate procedures and penalties for infractions.
While insurance producers should have some general knowledge of these topics, this is not an adequate substitute for the counsel from or representation by an experienced Indiana insurance license defense lawyer when professional integrity is called into question or issues arise related to an insurance producer license.
The IDOI, Indiana Law, and Insurance Rules and Regulations
Indiana Code article 27-1 created the Indiana Department of Insurance and conferred upon the agency and its commissioner the authority to license, oversee, and regulate insurers and insurance producers. Some specific exceptions are included in the code, but, generally, any person or business selling insurance must complete the Indiana Department of Insurance licensing process and maintain the records and standards set forth in the code.
The IDOI Enforcement Division is specifically tasked with investigating alleged misconduct by insurance producers and resolving violations through the processes set forth in Indiana Code chapter 27-1-15.6-1 and Indiana Administrative Code Title 760. Indiana Code § 27-1-2-4 states that reckless violation of Indiana insurance law (Indiana Code chapters 2 through 20) is a Class C infraction, which exposes those accused of violations to the consequences of that offense as well as the possibility of denial, suspension, or revocation of licensure and other penalties handed down by the IDOI.
The IDOI also has a Legal Services Division, but the agency is not able to provide legal advice to insurance producers. The IDOI Legal Services Division recommends that insurance producers in need of legal advice consult with an attorney. By having these consultations and conversations with an experienced Indiana insurance license defense lawyer, individuals and businesses can better ensure that the counsel and advice received are of the highest quality and targeted to protecting the insurance producer’s interests, taking into account all possibilities down the road to lead to a positive outcome.
Indiana Department of Insurance Licensing for Producers
Indiana insurance producers are classified in multiple ways. The first distinction is whether the license is for an individual/agent or a business entity/agency. Licensing processes and requirements vary in each of these categories depending on whether the person resides in or the business is primarily located in Indiana. Intentions to offer certain lines and forms of insurance may also impact the necessary steps, courses, and exams required to obtain and maintain licensure. For example, variable life and annuity insurance producer licensure also requires registration with FINRA.
Generally, the process to become a licensed insurance producer in Indiana includes the following:
- Completion of IDOI-approved pre-licensing education/courses
- Successful completion of the Indiana Producer Examination within six months of pre-licensing education completion, and
- Application for the appropriate Indiana insurance producer license
Non-residents who are licensed in another state, when that state offers reciprocal licensing for Indiana residents, do not need to complete additional educational requirements and may be granted non-resident licensure as long as there is no cause for denial under Indiana law.
Indiana Department of Insurance licensing additionally requires that a resident applicant:
- Is at least 18 years of age
- Has not committed an act that would be deemed grounds for denial, suspension, or revocation of licensure under Indiana Code 27-1-15.6-12
- Has submitted all required materials
- Has paid all related fees, and
- Is a United States citizen or legal alien with appropriate work authorization
It is important for potential applicants to note that the examinations required to sell different lines of insurance are not necessarily the same. Applicants should plan ahead, take all necessary courses, and complete the examination that applies to the lines of insurance they intend to offer once licensed. Problems may arise when an agent sells types of insurance not included in the licensure received.
Indiana Insurance License Renewal and Maintenance
Continuing education (CE) credits from an approved provider are required to maintain and renew an Indiana insurance producer license. CE credits must be logged in a database provided by the IDOI. In addition to maintaining updated records of continuing education in the database, an insurance producer may be audited by the IDOI and be required to provide certificates of completion for courses. Failure to maintain proper CE credits and document those credits as required can result in suspension of a license or denial of license renewal.
If records are properly maintained and renewal is timely, the process only requires completion of the renewal application (preferably online) and payment of related fees. The IDOI generally sends notice to insurance producers in advance of their renewal deadline, but it is important to note that not receiving advance notice is not deemed adequate cause for late application for an Indiana insurance license renewal. The process to renew an expired Indiana insurance provider license is more complex and varies depending on several factors.
Indiana Code § 27-1-15.7-3 allows licensed insurance producers in Indiana to request an extension of their renewal deadline, though that extension may or may not be granted. Applications for extension must be submitted on the IDOI’s official form and additional fees are required to file the request.
Violations: When Do You Need Indiana Insurance License Defense
Violations that can compromise an Indiana insurance producer’s license are described in Indiana Code. These can occur before a license is granted or any time throughout the agent’s career. The following can be grounds for investigation and license denial, suspension, or revocation:
- Fraud, misrepresentation, or providing false information during the application process
- Cheating on the Insurance Producer Examination (including inappropriate use of notes or references)
- Denial of licensure in another jurisdiction
- Violation of insurance law, regulation, subpoena, or order
- Improper management of funds or property
- Misrepresentation of insurance policy or contract terms
- Conviction for a felony offense
- Fraud or unfair trade practices
- Incompetent, untrustworthy, or irresponsible conduct in the course of business
- Selling lines of insurance provided by an unlicensed insurer
- Failure to meet child support obligations ordered by a court
- Failure to pay income taxes
- Failure to maintain required continuing education credits
- Naming oneself as a beneficiary in an insurance policy when there is not an insurable interest
- Failure to notify the IDOI of a change of legal name or address within 30 days
- Failure to report list of insurers with whom the producer has had an appointment, if requested by the IDOI
Indiana Administrative Code Title 760 further details the responsibilities and duties of licensed insurers and insurance producers. The code also describes actions by consumers that limit a producer’s liability and actions that can be taken to mitigate a complaints before it advances to the hearing process.
In 760 IAC 1-72-4, the regulations state that a producer’s responsibilities may be relieved if the consumer takes any of the following actions:
- Refuses to provide requested information
- Enters into agreements against or without the producer’s recommendations
- Provides inaccurate or false information to the producer
When a producer is in violation of regulations, corrective action may be taken to resolve the matter. If the affected consumer is relieved by this action and it is taken in a timely manner, penalties can be avoided.
Multiple laws and regulations govern the responsibilities of insurance producers. When allegations are made or problems arise, discussing the matter with an Indiana insurance license defense lawyer in the earliest stages can help individuals and businesses best position themselves to reduce or eliminate penalties and repercussions.
IDOI Licensing Violations: Hearings and Penalties
Hearings for alleged infractions of Indiana insurance law or regulations by insurance producers are governed by Indiana Code chapter 4-21.5-3, which outlines the process for adjudicative proceedings. The insurance commission may appoint IDOI staff to serve as hearing officers in these cases.
The penalties that may be implemented by the commissioner for violations of insurance law or rules include any of the following:
- Civil penalties, including fines of $50 to $10,000
- License suspension
- Temporary or permanent license revocation
- Denial of license renewal
Contact an Indiana Insurance License Defense Lawyer
Insurance producers accused of violations of Indiana insurance law or rules need an experienced Indiana insurance license defense lawyer who can help them navigate these rules, procedures, and hearings. The professional licensing attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are skilled and knowledgeable in the law and strategies that offer the best opportunities for successful remediation and defense. If you or your business need help, contact an Indiana insurance license defense lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer today by calling (317) 857-1060 or completing our online contact form.