A New York insurance regulation designed to protect customers from brokers who churn accounts has some insurance marketers crying overkill.
The regulation, which takes effect Nov. 20, requires brokers who are shifting a customer from one insurance policy or annuity to another to file four new forms and give customers two months to reconsider.
Regulation 60 is designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous brokers who recommend a replacement policy simply to generate fees, according to the New York State Insurance Department. Several calls to the department were not returned.
But some insurance industry executives say they think the new regulation is unnecessarily burdensome. Moreover, they wonder whether other states will enact similar measures, given New York's reputation as a leader in insurance regulation.
"Protecting customer interests is honorable but this regulation goes a little bit overboard," said Dennis R. Kosovac, president of Chase Manhattan Corp.'s insurance division. "It slows down the process and gives too many opportunities for someone to not do the right thing for themselves."
The new regulation also requires companies to change their sales materials to inform customers of the change in procedures. "All our existing marketing materials are now obsolete," said C. Perry Moore, director of Kemper Insurance Products, a division of Kemper Distributors Inc. "You're just adding costs and costs."
Mr. Moore said regulatory scrutiny of the area is hot because replaced policies account for what is conservatively estimated to be $30 billion to $35 billion in national domestic sales each year.
Despite that volume there has not been a rash of inappropriate replacements, Mr. Moore said. "We really do not see very much of it," he said.
Mr. Kosovac agreed that inappropriate replacements are not a major industry problem. "I thought the existing protections were adequate," he said.
The additional burdens make it more difficult for newer players to replace other companies' older products, Mr. Kosovac said.
Spurring the replacement binge has been a competitive environment where consumers have access to better products with improved features and guarantees, Mr. Moore said.