General SERFF Guidelines for Form Filings: Life Insurers

Filing Authority/Scope of Authority

Section 3201(b)(1) of the New York Insurance Law requires the filing for approval of all Policy Forms that are delivered or issued for delivery in New York for the types of insurance defined in the following Paragraphs of Section 1113(a) of the New York Insurance Law:

  • (1) Life Insurance;
  • (2) Annuities;
  • (3) Accident and health insurance; and
  • (24) Credit unemployment insurance.

DFS reviews all life insurance, annuity and credit unemployment insurance Policy Forms. We also are responsible for credit accident and health (disability) insurance Policy Forms.

Premium Rates

The following products are subject to rate review:

  1. Group life insurance where the groups are subject to Regulation 123
  2. Credit Life Insurance
  3. Credit accident and health insurance
  4. Credit Unemployment Insurance; and
  5. An involuntary unemployment lapse protection benefit Life Insurance

Out of State Filings

Section 3201(b)(2) indicates:

‘No unallocated group annuity contract or funding agreement, or policy form for accident and health insurance or any other policy form specified by the superintendent pursuant to regulation shall be issued by a domestic insurer or fraternal benefit society for delivery outside this state unless it has been filed with the superintendent.’

Domestic Life Insurers may use SERFF to make these submissions. The Filing Type should be “Form”, the Filing Mode should be “Other” with an explanation of “Out of State Filing”.

Other Submissions

In addition to Form and Rate submissions, DFS accepts the following submissions through SERFF:

Group Life Compensation Filing Section 4216(e), please use:

  • TOI = Group Life
  • Sub-TOI = General
  • Filing Type = Compensation

Annual Illustration Certifications Regulation 74, please use:

  • TOI = Life Insurance & Annuity Products
  • Sub-TOI = General Filing Type = Life Annual Illustration Certification

If there is other material that you would like to be able to send to DFS through SERFF, please contact us.

Filing Basis

This should be reflected in the Requested Filing Mode in SERFF.

a. Prior Approval Procedure

The “Review & Approval" filing mode should be selected.  As the name suggests the forms are approved only after they are reviewed and found acceptable.

b. Alternative Approval Procedure (“Deemer”)

The “File & Use” filing mode should be selected.

Section 3201(b)(6) and Circular Letter No. 2 (1998) provide for an expedited approval procedure designed to prevent delays by deeming forms to be approved or denied if the Department or insurer fail to act in a timely manner. 

After receipt of a submission the Department has 90 days to act on the submission or it is “Deemed” approved.  If objections are raised during the 90 day period then the Insurer has 45 days to respond.  If the Department receives a response within the 45 days it then has 45 days to take action.  If no action is taken then the submission is “Deemed” approved at the end of this 45 day period.

c. Prior Approval with Certification Procedure

The "Other" filing mode should be selected with an Explanation of "Certified".

Circular Letter No. 6 (2004) provides for an expedited approval procedure based on an appropriate certification of compliance signed by an officer of the company in the format provided by Circular Letter No. 6 (2004). Certifications that deviate from the language proscribed by the circular letter will not be accepted.

Substitution filings/follow-up correspondence with post-approval form changes are not permitted for Circular Letter No. 6 (2004) filings.

d. Inquiries

The "Other" filing mode should be selected with an Explanation of "Inquiry".

e. Out of State Filings

The "Other" filing mode should be selected with an Explanation of "Out of State Filing".

f. Extensions of Approval

The "Other" filing mode should be selected with an Explanation of "Extension of Approval".

The Filing Description should explain the type of Extension (i.e. "Electronic", "Telephonic", "Electronic/Telephonic" or "Forms").

g. Circular Letter 64-1

The "Other" filing mode should be selected with an Explanation of "C.L. 64-1".

This should only be used when the Policy Forms are not included in the submission and are being submitted separately.

h. Fund Changes

The "Other" filing mode should be selected with an Explanation of "Fund Changes Only".

After a List of Funds has been approved, any changes to the Funds are submitted as Fund Changes Only.

i. Informational Filings

The Requested Filing Mode should be "Informational".

j. Regulation 60 Electronic Procedures

The Requested Filing Mode should be left blank.

Companies may clone the form filing and submit the cloned file in support of their Regulation 60 Electronic Procedure Filing.

Attachment Information and File Formats accepted

a. File Formats

The acceptable file formats are PDF Documents and Excel.  Please note that files greater than 3mb and all non-PDF/Excel files will not appear in a Pipeline.

b. Multiple Forms and/or companies

At this time DFS does not accept multiple company submissions.  Please see the Special Forms Schedule Handling section below for the handling of multiple Forms.

c. Special Forms

DFS does not require the submission of any special forms other than those described in specific submission requirements.

d. Special Content

Any special content will be described in the General Instructions or the specific Requirement that it goes with.

Public Record Policy

Once a file has been closed it is subject to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

Special Filing at a Glance Information

DFS fields in “Filing at a Glance” are self-explanatory.

General Information tab

a. Status in Domicile

New York does not require approval of the company’s domicile state.

b. Filing Description

DFS no longer requires that a separate signed cover letter be included with the submission. Any information that would ordinarily be included in the signed Cover Letter must be placed in the filing description instead. Inclusion of "Please see cover letter" or phrases of similar intent in the filing description section will not be considered as meeting our filing requirements.

A number of circular letters and product outlines require information to be included in the submission letter. Except to the extent this information is already included in SERFF in other places this information must be included in the SERFF filing Description. The main areas that do NOT need to be included in the SERFF filing description are:

  1. The "Re" requirements of Circular Letter 8 of 1999 because this information is split between the SERFF TOI, the SERFF Sub-TOI and the SERFF Form Schedule.
  2. The requirement in Circular Letter 2 of 1998 to include "SECTION 3201(b)(6) DEEMER FILING" in the "Re" of Deemer filings, because Deemer filings are identified in the SERFF Requested Filing Mode as "File & Use".
  3. The requirement in Circular Letter 6 of 2004 to include "Circular Letter No. 6 (2004) Prior Approval With Certification" in bold in the "Re" of Certified filings, because Certified filing are identified in the SERFF Requested Filing Mode as "Other" with an explanation of "Certified".

Special Forms Schedule Handling

New York has a number of special requirements for the Form Schedule.  Our goal is to be able to use the Form Schedule to electronically populate our back office system.

a. Circular Letter 8 of 1999 Considerations.

Circular Letter 8 of 1999 requires each policy form in a submission to be identified by a "generic product description" and a "generic form description". The generic product description requirement is satisfied by choosing the Type of Insurance (TOI) from the Uniform Product Coding matrix. The use of the Form Schedule for the generic form description is a problem. The generic form description by function matches the Form Type. However, the limited choices for this field in SERFF do not meet the requirements of Circular Letter 8 of 1999. For SERFF submissions the Form Schedule will replace the RE requirement of Circular Letter 8 of 1999.

Important - The generic form description required by Circular Letter 8 of 1999 should be put in the Form Name field. Form Number may not include semicolons (;).

b. With the exceptions described below for Variable Material and Lists of Funds, there should be only one attachment per line. Versions of policy forms that show changes from earlier versions should be included in the supporting documentation.

c. The Form Number should be exactly what appears in the lower left corner of the Form. In particular if the word "Form" does not appear in the lower left corner then it should not be part of the Form Number on the Form Schedule.

d. The memorandum of variable material should be included in the Form Schedule. The Form Number should be the Form Number of the form that the memorandum of variable material is to be used with. The generic form description "Variable Material" should be put in the Form Name field.

Almost all companies submit the available variable funds for variable products as variable material. DFS requires that the memorandum of variable material that lists the available variable funds be submitted separately from the memorandum of variable material for all other variations of the forms. Similar rules apply except that the generic form description of "List of Funds" should be put in the Form Name field of the Form Schedule.

There are a number of acceptable ways for inclusion of the Variable Material and Lists of Funds in the Form Schedule. A company may use any one of these for a particular submission.

Approach 1 is the most straightforward. Each item (i.e. Policy Form, Variable Material, List of Funds) appear on a separate line in the Form Schedule with one attachment per line. The Form Type in SERFF for Variable Material and List of Funds should be "OTH". For variable material either "Variable Material" or "MOV" should be put in the Form Name field. For the list of funds either "List of Funds" or "LOF" should be put in the Form Name field.

It is possible to have one memorandum of variable material cover a number of forms. If this is done, the memorandum must appear on a separate line in the Form Schedule for each form covered by the memorandum. The same attachment would be used each time the memorandum appears in the schedule.

Approach 2 recognizes that one Memorandum of Variable Material (or List of Funds) may cover a number of Forms. In this case one line in the Forms Schedule may be used for the variable material. Each Form Number that the Variable Material applies to should be put in the Form Number field with each form separated by semicolons. The Form Type is "OTH". For variable material either "Variable Material" or "MOV" should be put in the Form Name field. For the list of funds either "List of Funds" or "LOF" should be put in the Form Name field. And there should only be one attachment per line.

Important - The Form Number field in SERFF is limited to 255 characters. This limitation may occasionally require the use of multiple lines.

Approach 3 is designed to have all three possible attachments for a given Policy Form on the same line of the Form Schedule. The Form Number would go into the Form Number Field. The Form Type should be based on the type of the Policy Form. The form name should include the generic form description from Circular Letter 8 of 1999, if applicable "Variable Material" or "MOV" and if applicable "List of Funds" or "LOF". Then on the one line would be attachments for the Policy Form, Variable Material (if applicable) and the List of Funds (if applicable).

Please note that this approach does have the drawback that if only one part of the line needs to be revised, then the entire line of the Form Schedule will need to be resubmitted.

Our general rules for the use of variability can be found at Procedure and Filing Guidance for Approval of Memorandum of Variable Material with additional guidance for individual life and annuity products found at Additional Guidance on Variable Material for Individual Products

Sometimes a company submits several versions of a form. One version may show the form with bracketing to indicate the variable items, another may be a "clean" copy without the bracketing, while a third version may show how this forms was changed from a previous version.

Only the version with the bracketing should appear in the form schedule. Both the "clean" version without the bracketing and the mock-up version should be included in the supporting documents section.

Special Rate/Rule Schedule Handling:

Because of the limited instance where rate approval is required DFS, at this time, has no specific requirements for the rate schedule.

Special Supporting Documentation Schedule Handling:

This will also be discussed in the Requirements section. 

Special State Specific Fields tab Handling:

DFS has no State Specific Fields.

Special Companies/Contacts tab Handling

DFS has no special instructions for the Companies/Contracts tab.

Special Filing Fees tab Handling

There are no filing fees.

Special Filing Correspondence tab Handling

In general responses to DFS objection letters are due within 15 calendar days, unless otherwise indicated in the objection letter.

In general all outstanding issues are expected to be resolved with 2 objection letters. Additional objections letter may occur for easily resolved outstanding issues. Any additional objections letter will have a greatly reduced timeframe to respond.


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