The Florida Surplus Lines Service Office in Tallahassee has made a concerted effort to create a digital online classroom to improve educational resources to provide quick and quality service at its customers’ fingertips. The technological advancements afford the Service Office with a means to expand its education programs across state lines.
FSLSO was created by the Florida Legislature as a self-regulating, not-for-profit association to protect consumers and state revenues by facilitating industry compliance and serving as a source of information and advice concerning the surplus lines insurance marketplace in Florida.
With a focus on mobility, FSLSO invested its efforts into available technologies to fuse traditional classroom styles with new age enhancements, creating a digital classroom in which the learner can meet educational needs using the Internet.
“By utilizing new, developing technologies, we extended our educational services to a wider range of learners,” Gary Pullen, FSLSO executive director explained. “Our online education programs provide the opportunity to fulfill education requirements at a convenient time and location.”
In December 2003, the FSLSO launched a 60-Hour Surplus Lines Pre-Licensing Qualification Course, the first of its kind in Florida that gives insurance agents the opportunity to complete their pre-licensing qualification credits towards their 1-20 (resident) and 91-20 (nonresident) surplus lines licenses using the Internet. Since July 1, 2004, when Florida law began allowing Florida nonresident surplus lines agent licensing, 30 percent of the learners who purchased the
Pre-Licensing Qualification Course were from out-of-state agencies.
The qualification course has several main areas of focus, beginning with a comprehensive study of the history of surplus line insurance, regulatory processes, distribution systems, unauthorized insurance entities and financial accounting aspects. Also included is an overview of the Florida Surplus Lines Service Office, its programs and services, and responsibilities of surplus lines agents and their reporting requirements. Rounding out the course is a review of the Rules of Practice applicable to Surplus Lines Law and a list of the Florida Statutes as a reference. Examples of forms applicable to Florida’s surplus lines industry are also provided.
Students have 90 days to complete course material and take an online final exam that qualifies them to sit for the Florida surplus lines licensing exam.
The final exam, administered on computer, has a 120-minute time limit with two opportunities to pass. An acceptable passing score is 75 percent or higher, and a certificate of completion is provided to participants after a passing score is achieved.
The Service Office also focuses on the customers’ needs of readily available continuing educational (C.E) credit opportunities with the construction of two additional online education courses to add to its physical classroom C.E. offerings. These courses are also available to Florida’s nonresident agents who need to maintain their C.E. credits.
The “Florida’s Surplus Lines Rules and Regulations,” provides three hours of property and casual C.E. and was launched in early 2004. This course provides up-to-date information on Florida’s laws and rules for both resident and nonresident agents. The course features an overview of the FSLSO and its services; surplus lines filing procedures; and a listing of the Rules of Practice and Florida Statutes applicable to the Florida Surplus Lines Law.
A second online C.E. course, “Unauthorized Insurance Entities; Knowing the Difference,” also became available in 2004 as a two-hour C.E. opportunity. This two-hour C.E. offering provides the student with an understanding of the differences between an unauthorized insurer and an illegal insurance entity; of the intricacies of how specific insurance entities are regulated and how illegal insurance entities operate; how agents may protect themselves from becoming a target for these types of fraudulent operations; and, how the FSLSO provides information regarding eligible surplus lines insurers.
All continuing education classes are approved by the Florida Department of Financial Services and are free to FSLSO’s member surplus lines agents while all other participants pay a nominal fee. By Florida law, Florida licensed surplus lines agents (resident and nonresident) must be FSLO members. Interested participants may access any of the available online programs by visiting the Service Office’s online education website at http://www.fslso.com/education.
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