The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on September 13, 2005, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
Re: Non-resident Insurance Agent/Insurance Consulting
May a New York licensed non-resident life and health insurance agent use the titles "Independent Insurance Advisor" or "Independent Insurance Consultant" on his or her business cards?
Yes, a New York licensed non-resident life and health insurance agent may use the titles "Independent Insurance Advisor" and "Independent Insurance Consultant" on his or her business cards.
The inquirer states that the inquirer is licensed in New Jersey as an insurance agent and that the inquirer is also licensed in New York as a non-resident life and health insurance agent. No additional facts were provided.
N.Y. Ins. Law § 2102(b)(1) (McKinney 2000 and Supp. 2005) prohibits a person, firm, association or corporation from identifying him or herself as an insurance consultant in New York State without a proper license. Section 2102 (b)(1) provides:
Unless licensed as an insurance agent, insurance broker or insurance consultant, no person, firm, association or corporation shall in this state identify or hold himself or itself out to be an insurance advisor, insurance consultant or insurance counselor.
In addition, N.Y. Ins. Law § 2102(b)(3) (McKinney 2000 and Supp 2005) provides:
Unless licensed as an insurance agent, insurance broker or insurance consultant with respect to the relevant kinds of insurance, no person, firm, association or corporation shall receive any money, fee, commission or thing of value for examining, appraising, reviewing or evaluating any insurance policy, annuity or pension contract, plan or program or shall make recommendations or give advice with regard to any of the above.
Identical provision is made with regard to the non-resident status of agents and brokers under N.Y. Ins. Law § 2101(d) and (e) respectively. Section 2101(d) (McKinney 2000 and Supp. 2005), dealing with agents, provides:
In this article, "non-resident insurance agent" means an individual who is a non-resident of this state and who is licensed or authorized to act as an insurance agent in the state in which he resides, or in which he or the firm or association of which he is a member or employee, or the corporation of which he is an officer, director, or employee maintains an office as an insurance agent.
The New York Insurance Law does not prohibit a licensed non-resident insurance agent or broker from acting as an insurance consultant, collecting fees or commissions for such services, or indicating that it provides such services within the State of New York. Licensed agents and brokers, including non-resident agents and brokers, may advertise as insurance consultants.
With regard to the manner of permitted advertisements, the Department had previously opined that any identification by agents, brokers and consultants as insurance consultants must include reference to the kind of insurance involved life or general. The Department had also opined that licensed insurance agents, brokers or consultants could not hold themselves out as "licensed" insurance consultants. Upon reconsideration, the Department has modified its position as stated below.
The Department now takes the position that agents, brokers and consultants are not required to specify the type of insurance involved when advertising as consultants. Additionally, individuals licensed as insurance consultants may hold themselves out as "licensed" insurance consultants. However, the Department maintains that while licensed insurance agents and brokers may advertise as insurance consultants, they may not hold themselves out as "licensed" insurance consultants unless actually licensed as insurance consultants.
Accordingly, a New York licensed non-resident insurance agent may use the titles "Independent Insurance Consultant" or "Independent Insurance Advisor."
For further information one may contact Associate Attorney Sam Wachtel at the New York City Office.