COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Insurance adopted a rule, effective July 1, that makes it an unfair and deceptive sales practice for insurance agents to use senior-specific certifications and designations when selling life insurance, annuities or health insurance, including Medicare products in the state, director Mary Jo Hudson announced.
“We adopted this rule to help protect Ohio’s seniors from those agents who hold themselves out as specialists in the senior insurance market by using misleading, non-accredited certifications and designations to scam trusting seniors and make a quick sale,’’ Hudson said. “Anyone who questions the authenticity of a senior-specific certification or designation, experiences a sales pitch that seems to good to be true or feels pressured to make a quick purchase decision should call the department’s fraud hotline at (800) 686-1527.”
The rule (3901-5-11) specifically states that it is an unfair and deceptive trade practice under sections 3901.19 to 3901.26 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and a dishonest practice under division (B) (9) of section 3905.14 of the ORC for an insurance agent to use a senior-specific certification or professional designation in a manner that violates this rule and Ohio law.
The prohibited use of senior specific certifications or professional designations includes, but is not limited to, the following:
∫ Use of a certification or professional designation by an insurance agent who has not actually earned or is otherwise ineligible to use such certification or designation.
∫ Use of a nonexistent or self-conferred certification or professional designation.
∫ Use of a designation or certification that contains the word “senior.”
∫ Use of a certification or professional designation that indicates or implies a level of occupational qualifications obtained through education, training or experience that the insurance agent using the certification or designation does not have.
If a certifying or designating organization has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies or any organization that is on the U.S. Department of Education’s “Accrediting Agencies Recognized for Title IV Purposes” list, then it is presumed that any certification or designation issued by one of these entities does not violate this rule.