The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on November 17, 2005, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
Re: Signature on an Insurance Contract
Must the authorized signature that is affixed by the insurer upon an insurance contract delivered in the State of New York be that of a licensed insurance agent?
No. The signature affixed by the insurer on an insurance contract that is delivered in the State of New York does not need to be that of a licensed insurance agent.
The inquirer represents an insurance company that sells property/casualty, as well as motorcycle, insurance. The inquirers question is in reference to OGC Opinion No. 03-07-29 which references General Obligation Law § 5-701 and states that an authorized insurers signature must be affixed upon an insurance contract. The inquirer wishes to know whether this authorized signature is required to be that of a licensed insurance agent.
The General Obligation Law § 5-701 (McKinney 2005) discusses agreements that are required to be in writing and in pertinent part states:
a. Every agreement, promise or undertaking is void, unless it or some note or memorandum thereof be in writing, and subscribed by the party to be charged therewith, or by his lawful agent, if such agreement, promise or undertaking:
1. By its terms is not to be performed within one year from the making thereof or the performance of which is not to be completed before the end of a lifetime. . . .
Section 5-701 of the General Obligation Law requires that agreements be subscribed by the party to be charged or by his or her lawful agent if the agreement, by its terms, is not to be performed within one year from the making thereof. There is nothing in the New York Insurance Law that requires the signature that is affixed upon an insurance contract by the insurance company be that of a licensed insurance agent. It may be any individual within the insurance company that has been authorized by the insurer to act in that capacity.
For further information please contact Principal Attorney Donald Carroll at the New York City office.