If you have a driver's license in one state, you can still drive legally in other states. The same holds true with marriage. If you are married in one state, the other states will recognize your marital status.
This isn't true if you have an insurance license, which makes selling insurance in the United States a tricky affair. As a licensed insurance agent, I have to hold a "residence" license, which as the name implies, is from South Carolina, where I reside. However, if I want to sell a policy to someone from a different state, I have to pay that state a separate fee for a "non-resident" license. Imagine having to get a new driver's license in every state you drive through.
The basic rule that is taught to insurance agents is that you should have a license in the state where the client's feet are in at the time of the application. If I am in South Carolina but I'm taking an application on someone who is in Tennessee, I have to hold a valid non-resident license for the Volunteer State.
As an agent who markets on the internet, I have to be cognizant of where clients are calling from. I am licensed in three states currently (South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia), and hope to get some paperwork finished with Tennessee soon.
For an independent agent like myself, this can create a lot of problems that can be very expensive. Each state has its own fees, which come due every two years or so. One solution that I devised is to have other agents on hand who have licenses in other states. For example, my great colleague Jeanne Doran, is licensed in the state of Maine. We also have another agent, Travis Burt, who is licensed in 12 states. This helps us tremendously when clients contact us from out of state.
But from a insurance company perspective, dealing with all of the state insurance departments can be a logistical nightmare. Let's assume that the ABC Insurance company has a life insurance product, a whole life policy. ABC takes that policy to the insurance commissioner of Virginia, for example, and has to get it approved. The insurance department must also approve the brochures, applications and any other applicable forms.
Now let's assume that ABC is wanting the same policy approved in Texas. No problem, except they would like to have a section of the brochure printed in red ink instead of black.
Imagine having to do that with a couple dozen products in all 50 states. Each state would have their own version of the necessary forms and applications. And some of the states may not approve of the insurance product at all.
All of this costs companies and agents a lot of money each year. As the world gets smaller through the world wide web, the insurance industry needs to work with insurance commissioners to make sure that the residents of a state have access to the latest and most innovative products. As Surf Financial Brokers grows its network of agents we hope to be able to provide great life, disability, long term care and short term home health care insurance polices, as well as our super line-up of cancer, accident and critical illness plans.
Please check out our website and let us know if we can help you. And please, stay healthy!
Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, helping people find affordable life and disability insurance coverage. He's also is a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient and has spoken to professional and civic organizations throughout the Southeast. And please subscribe to this blog!