BREAKING: NAIC Adopts a Best-Interest Standard for Annuity Sales

February 13, 2020—This afternoon, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) voted to recommend that the states amend their annuity sales regulations to require insurance agents to “act in the best interest of the consumer when making a recommendation of an annuity.”

The action came in the form of an amendment to the NAIC’s 2010 Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation, which was adopted by 45 states and the District of Colombia in the wake of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The new best-interest standard requires insurance agents to exercise a greater degree of care in selecting annuities for their clients, to avoid conflicts of interest, to make certain disclosures to clients, and maintain adequate documentation to show that they have acted in the best interest of the client. Insurance companies are required to supervise agent compliance with this rule and to maintain compensation systems that will not undermine the best interest of clients.

Like the 2010 model regulation, the new model regulation requires that agents be trained in its requirements. For agents new to selling annuities, the new model calls for a 4-hour training course. For veteran agents who were trained under the old model regulation, the new model regulation allows for a 1-hour update course, but the regulation makes this option available only for the first 6 months after their state adopts the new rule.

RegEd has two courses completed that meet these requirements (which will be submitted for approval and continuing education (CE) credit in each state as their version of this regulation comes on line):

Recommending Annuities Under the NAIC Best Interest Standard (490)
This is the standard 4-hour training course required of insurance agents before they may sell annuities. It details the standard of care agents must adhere to when recommending annuities to clients. It discusses the fact finding and analysis required to make a recommendation that is in the best interest of the client. It discusses conflicts of interests, disclosures to clients, and documentation. In addition, the course review the operations of different types of annuities and how they are used to meet different client need.

Recommending Annuities Under the New NAIC Best Interest Standard—1 Hour Update Course
Veteran insurance agents who previously qualified to sell annuities under their state’s version of the NAIC annuity suitability regulation may take this 1-hour update course to qualify to sell annuities under the new NAIC best-interest standard. This course details the standard of care agents must adhere to when recommending annuities to clients. It discusses the fact finding and analysis required to make a recommendation that is in the best interest of the client. It discusses conflicts of interests, disclosures to clients, and documentation.

These courses will be available in each state upon approval.

The state of Arizona has already announced that it is going ahead with its process for adopting its version of the NAIC model regulation.

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