DOI Gets Power To Fine for Continuing Education
A new law in Massachusetts adds an additional requirement to continuing education for insurance producers and grants the Division of Insurance the right to impose fines if producers do fulfill their continuing education requirements.
Enacted on June 17, 2014, the new law applies to all resident and nonresident persons licensed for (1) life insurance, annuity contracts, variable annuity contracts and variable life insurance; (2) sickness, accident and health insurance; (3) property and casualty insurance;
New three hour ethics education requirement
The new statute adds an additional requirement for continuing education. As of September 17, 2014, the date the law becomes effective, insurance producers will be required to complete three hours of ethics instruction as part of the continuing education requirements.
The laws adds the ethics requirement as an additional subsection of G.L. c. 175, § 177E, that states:
(3) Any person holding 1 or more such licenses [subject to a continuing education requirement] shall, as part of such requirements, satisfactorily complete a program of instruction or attend a seminar on ethics equivalent to 3 classroom hours of instruction.
The law does not make the ethics training an additional requirement. Licensees who must complete continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses will still have requirements for 60 hours of continuing education during their initial licensing period and 45 hours of continuing education instruction for subsequent licensing periods.
Law gives the Division of Insurance power to fine for continuing education violations
Presently, when a person fails to provide the Commissioner with sufficient documentation to prove compliance with the continuing education law, the Commissioner only has the authority to suspend, after hearing, the license of a person “until such time as such person shall have demonstrated” that they have complied with the law.
The new law grants the Commissioner the additional power to impose civil fines of up to $100 for each hour of continuing education a licensee has failed to complete. The new law amends Subsection H of G.L. c. 175, § 177E, by adding a sentence that states:
In addition to, or in lieu of, a license suspension, a person, after a hearing, which may be waived by that person, may be subject to a civil fine of not less than $20 nor more than $100 for each hour of instruction by which that person fails to meet the requirements imposed by this section.
Based upon the continuing education law’s amendment, new licensees who do not comply with the continuing education law could theoretically face maximum fines of $6,000. Licensees who have renewed their initial licenses and have the lesser requirement of 45 continuing education hours would still face the possibility of a $4,500 civil fine if they totally ignored their continuing education requirements.