Florida Governor Signs State Insurance Licensing, Workforce Development Bill

By | June 18, 2015

The Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA) is celebrating the passage of House Bill 1133, a bill it sponsored in cooperation with the Florida Department of Financial Services. Passed overwhelmingly by Florida lawmakers, the bill was signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott on June 16.

The idea for the legislation came from FAIA’s Good Works Fund, created in 2009 as the charitable arm of the association, as a way to better align Florida prelicensing and college coursework as an incentive for students to look towards the insurance industry for their careers. FAIA staff worked closely with the DFS to craft the legislation.

Kyle Ulrich, senior vice president of Public Affairs for FAIA, said DFS had already approached the association about cleaning up the Florida pre-licensing statutes, which presented an opportunity to tie in the insurance workforce development piece. The bill authorizes DFS to waive the state exam for a personal lines agent license if the applicant receives an associate’s degree that includes nine credit hours of approved insurance instruction. Ulrich spoke with Insurance Journal about the legislation and how it will promote careers in the insurance industry.

Q: What are the main points of HB1133 and how does it help the Florida Insurance Industry?

The centerpiece of the bill is the workforce development portion and the college-to-career pathway statute that aligns college coursework with current Florida pre‑licensing requirements to hopefully incent young people into the insurance field by saying if you take college coursework, either at the state college or university level, and it’s been approved by the department and you obtain your degree, then you will be bestowed a license, whether that be a general lines license or a customer service representative or personal lines license.

Q: Why did FAIA decide to develop this legislation now?

A: When the economy is best, it’s probably the biggest complaint or request that we get from our members that, hey, how can we find more qualified professionals?

We see it every day in our members that the workforce is aging, much like many other industries, just given the current demographics of the United States… the Florida legislature was looking at demand and need in industries and [reports] showed that the insurance industry was one of the highest in terms of need for qualified professionals.

It’s kind of one of those things that everything just sort of fell into place, and it seemed to be the right time to build momentum for this idea that the Good Works Fund came up with.

Q: How will FAIA work with DFS and the state college system to help them implement all the stipulations?

There will be a couple different areas that we’ll be working on. First and foremost, the folks that serve on our Good Works Fund, that are on that board so to speak, will be the association’s ambassadors.

We’ll be working as liaisons from the Good Works Fund, trying to get folks from the companies more involved, and then the department will be working with the state colleges to make sure that the curriculum is setup in a way that aligns with the pre‑licensing laws.

Q: Does the legislation influence an agent’s ability to work in other states or give them ability to work in other states?

A: It doesn’t impact Florida agents doing business anywhere else. Each state has their own requirements for non‑resident licensure and some have reciprocity with Florida, some don’t. But this would not impact those other states’ requirements in any way.

I think the biggest thing that we’re trying to deal with right now is that there are universities in bordering states to Florida that offer risk management and insurance degrees. [DFS] is going to have to look at the curriculum at those universities, and if they believe that that curriculum does in fact cover all of the things that our pre‑licensing laws require. If so, there might be other universities outside of Florida who would be producing students that would qualify for licensure here in Florida.

Q: Will there be some sort of system in place once students have graduated to help them find jobs in the industry?

A: It’s going to be up to us to be working with the state college’s guidance area…that’s just a continued part of the education that the association and the Good Works Fund will be doing with state colleges to make sure that, one, students are aware of the opportunities and get into the program, and then once they’re in the program, building internship programs and making sure that the folks are placed.

We are extraordinarily focused on making sure that there are agents or agencies and companies who are working very closely with the state colleges to make sure that these students are placed once they do graduate.

To Hear the Entire Interview, Listen to the Podcast Below:

About Amy O'Connor

O'Connor is the Southeast editor for Insurance Journal and associate editor of MyNewMarkets.com. More from Amy O'Connor

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.