Alliance Opposes Proposed N.J. Restrictions on Call Centers

June 6, 2003

The Alliance of American Insurers testified yesterday against NJ Assembly Bill 3259, which, it asserts, “would place restrictions on insurers using call centers.”

Alliance Assistant Regional Manager Richard Stokes stated: “We have concerns about this legislation from two perspectives. First, we presume the bill as originally introduced is meant to dissuade companies from outsourcing their call centers to other countries and perhaps other states. However, because New Jersey has no jurisdiction over business operations located in other countries and probably no jurisdiction, under these circumstances, over other states, the only call centers subject to these rules will be the ones located in New Jersey. We do not believe this proposal will resolve the concerns of outsourcing. Because the proposed law could be enforced only in this state, it would create a major disincentive for a company to keep call center operations in New Jersey, quite the opposite of its presumed intent.

“Also of concern is the fact that it would permit the Department of Consumer Affairs to regulate how the insurance industry handles customer relations and communication. That would create dual regulatory oversight, when the New Jersey statutes clearly provide the Department of Banking and Insurance with authority over the industry.”

The bulletin noted that the current proposed measure regulates “inbound call centers,” by requiring call center employees “to provide their name and the municipality, state and country where the center is located, within the first 30 seconds of the call.” It also mandates that employees of “foreign call centers,” would have to “obtain affirmative consent from callers before asking for personal information, and must disclose that providing personal information is optional.”

The Alliance pointed out that insurers, “like many businesses, maintain phone centers to answer customers’ questions about their insurance coverage and investments and generally provide whatever help their clients need.” Stokes said that even if the bill was amended to lessen its impact, the organization would continue to oppose its passage, as it deems the legislation unnecessary.

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