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  • How to find high standard insurance companies
  • July 25, 2013
  • Tony Steuer

    By Tony Steuer, CLU, LA

    Every insurance company adheres to their own ethical standards as well as to basic guidelines laid out by their state’s Department of Insurance.

    Contact information for every state’s insurance department can be found here.

    A new entity called the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA) was recently created. Their mission is to promote high ethical standards in the sale and servicing of individually sold life insurance, annuities and long-term products.

    Members of IMSA are insurers who have agreed to adopt and abide by IMSA’s Principles and Code of Ethical Market Conduct in order to earn your trust and gain your confidence.

    IMSA’s Principles and Code of Ethical Market Conduct

    Each IMSA member life insurance company subscribes to these principles:

    IMSA holds all of their members to high ethical standards and lays these out in a series of principles and guidelines.

    1. To conduct business according to high standards of honesty and fairness and to render that service to its customers which, in the same circumstance, it would apply to or demand for itself.

    2. To provide competent and customer-focused sales and service

    3. To engage in active and fair competition

    4. To provide advertising and sales materials that is clear as to purpose and honest and fair as to content.

    5. To provide fair and expeditious handling of customer complaints and disputes.

    6. To maintain a system of supervision and review that is reasonably designed to achieve compliance with these Principle of Ethical Market Conduct

    These standards were established to ensure that a company continues to commit itself to honest, fairness and integrity in all customer contacts involving the sale and servicing of life insurance, long-term care and annuities.

    As apart of this commitment, the company carefully monitors the sale process, employees and agents on a regular basis.

    Various policies and procedures were created from this to ensure that customers would receive all necessary information to make an informed decision to either purchase or replace insurance policies.

    Since IMSA holds their members to such high standards, customers have found that companies are highly responsive to concerns and complaints.

    IMSA’s standards complement those required by state regulation, but in some instances are more rigorous than current requirements. Members agree to set up and follow procedures specifically designed to promote ethical market conduct and agree to monitor those procedures on a continued basis.

    An insurer becomes a member by adopting IMSA’s Principles and Code and by implementing policies and procedures to meet IMSA’s standards.

    To demonstrate their committee, the insurer undergoes an assessment by an outside, independent examiner, such as an accountant, attorney actuarial, or management consultant, who is certified to assess that the company has met these standards.

    If the independent assessor determines that the insurer’s systems and programs meet IMSA’s standards, the insurer earns membership for three years.

    The assessment and review process must be repeated every three years in order for a company to remain a member of IMSA.

    Choosing life insurance is an important decision and you should consider many factors. A number of legitimate business decisions may have guided a company’s decision not to qualify for IMSA membership at this time.

    IMSA membership is not the only indicator of a company’s commitment to ethical market conduct. However, IMSA membership could be an important consideration for you.

    It is further evidence that a company is committed to high standards and has established market conduct policies and programs to recognize customer’s needs.

    A complaint against an IMSA Member should be directed to your insurance company, which should follow the complaint-handling procedure. In many cases, people find that insurers are eager to resolve customers’ problems and complaints.

    Should you not receive a satisfactory response, you may then forward a copy of your original letter to IMSA.

    Contact information for IMSA can be found here.

    (The above information is from the IMSA website.)

About Tony Steuer

Noted insurance author Tony Steuer has spent over 25 years in the life insurance industry. Steuer’s leadership roles include serving on the California Department of Insurance Curriculum board and the National Financial Educator's Council Curriculum Advisory Panel as well as having served as President of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Society of CLU & ChFC, President of the leading Life Insurance Producers of Northern California, and as a board member of the San Francisco Life Underwriters Association. Mr. Steuer is the author of Questions and Answers on Life Insurance: The Life Insurance Toolbook, The Questions and Answers on Life Insurance Workbook and The Questions and Answers on Disability Insurance Workbook - the first two were awarded the “Excellence in Financial Literacy (EIFLE) Award from the Institute of Financial Literacy. Steuer holds a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation and also holds the Life and Disability Insurance Analyst License, a designation that is held by less than thirty people in California.

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Questions & Answers on Life Insurance by Tony Steuer, CLU, LA, CPFFE is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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