The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on May 18, 2007, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
Re: Use of a Mobile Office by Licensed Broker
May a licensed insurance broker who has a permanent office location also sell or solicit insurance from a motor vehicle when parked at various locations?
Yes. Provided that the broker is compliant with all pertinent provisions of N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 11, Pt. 34 (2006) (Regulation 125), a licensed insurance broker who has a permanent office location may also sell and solicit insurance contracts from a motor vehicle.
The inquirer is a licensed insurance broker with a permanent office location who seeks to engage in the solicitation and sale of insurance in a mobile vehicle that will be parked at varied locations.
N.Y. Ins. Law § 2129(a) (McKinney 2006) governs satellite offices. That statute reads as follows:
(a) Each place of business established by the holder of an agent and/or broker license shall be under the supervision of one or more persons licensed to do the kinds of business transacted in that office. The headquarters location must be supervised by one or more persons licensed to do all the kinds of business for which the licensee is authorized. Any satellite office established by a licensee must be supervised by one or more persons licensed to do the kinds of business to be transacted in that office. (Emphasis added.)
Regulation 125 implements Insurance Law § 2129 and defines a "satellite office" as "any place of business other than the headquarters location." A mobile office location from a vehicle thus may constitute a "satellite office" within the meaning of 11 NYCRR § 34.1(e). That conclusion is confirmed by the plain text of 11 NYCRR § 34.1(c), which defines the term "place of business" as "any location in this State used by an agent or broker to conduct an insurance business."
Regulation 125 establishes other parameters too, with which a licensed broker must comply with in regard to each place of business. Of particular significance to the present inquiry is 11 NYCRR § 34.2(c), which provides that "a supervising person may not be responsible for more than one place of business of the same agent and broker or any other agent or broker at any one time," except as specified by 11 NYCRR § 34.2(e). That regulatory provision, in turn, allows a supervising person to be responsible for more than one place of business so long as "at any one time, only one place of business of the locations for which said supervising person is responsible is open to the public." Id. Therefore, the inquirer may not conduct business from the vehicle at the same time as business is conducted in the office unless there is another licensee supervising the office.
It is not entirely clear from the inquiry whether the inquirer intends for the mobile office to be staffed solely by the inquirer, another licensee, or unlicensed employees. However, no unlicensed person may act as an insurance agent or broker without being licensed as such. Accordingly, no unlicensed employee may engage in the sale or solicitation of insurance from the vehicle.
In sum, provided that he/she is fully compliant with all pertinent provisions of Regulation 125, a licensed insurance broker who has a permanent office location may also sell and solicit insurance from a mobile vehicular satellite office.
For further information you may contact Associate Attorney D. Monica Marsh at the New York City Office.