Posted on November 9, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Certain regulatory relief provided during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the insured retirement industry operational should be adopted on a uniform, permanent basis, according to the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).

IRI provided recommendations to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Innovation and Technology Task Force to permanently adopt regulatory measures used to ensure essential business activities and remote customer interactions during the pandemic.

“Looking ahead, we respectfully urge the states to collaborate through the NAIC to establish uniform approaches for any regulatory relief or accommodations to be adopted on a permanent basis to ensure consistent consumer treatment and easier administration for insurers,” wrote Jason Berkowitz, IRI Chief Legal and Regulatory Affairs Officer, in a comment letter to the NAIC Task Force.

IRI noted several positive accommodations that state insurance regulators approved earlier in the year as pandemic mitigation measures restricted in-person interactions and thus required digital solutions to meet consumer and industry needs.

  • Regulatory Exams - The pandemic made it necessary for professional licensing exams to be conducted remotely. Before the pandemic, many states were already using or expanding their use of remote examination. The industry responded to the remote licensing process as an opportunity to hire and retain staff and keep up with customer service.

  • Remote/Electronic Notary - Remote notarization accommodations have been used effectively and securely by leveraging technology to maintain commerce and consumer protection.

  • E-Signature/E-Delivery - After years of stalled adoption, the pandemic accelerated industry adoption of electronic signatures (eSignature) into their product application process. This is a significant technology application that should continue as a standard practice to meet customer needs and modernize business operations. Electronic delivery (eDelivery) of forms, applications, and filings also expanded during the pandemic. IRI encourages its members to utilize eDelivery as an efficient, contact-free delivery method for policies and supporting documents.

“We encourage the NAIC Innovation and Technology Task Force to build off the opportunities provided by temporary relief measures and continue to explore and pursue efforts to modernize the regulatory framework to allow for all industry participants to leverage the opportunities presented by electronic, remote, and virtual engagement tools,” Berkowitz said.

Among the IRI’s core strategic objectives is leading the retirement income industry to modernize the annuity transaction process. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative gained a new sense of urgency.

IRI is now implementing the initiative with the goal of driving universal adoption across all IRI members while encouraging other industry partners to follow suit. The primary focus is on eSignature and eDelivery capabilities that safely facilitate transactions from a public health and an information security perspective.

Berkowitz concluded, “As we enter nine months of conducting business during a pandemic, many of the experiences of regulators, industry players, and consumers are forever changed. These circumstances have pushed the industry to modernize how we do business and how we engage with consumers. Ultimately, we believe regulators, carriers, producers, and consumers will reap the benefits of this evolution.”

# # #

Contact: Dan Zielinski