Yep, we’ve heard the joke about compliance being the “business prevention department”, and we also know that you probably don’t get as excited about reading laws and regulations as much as we do. However, at Ethos, while we take compliance very seriously, we also want to find ways to support you and your business and to make compliance a little easier. With that in mind, we’ve prepared this brief Compliance Guide addressing some key regulatory compliance topics. If there are other compliance questions or concerns we can help you with, please let us know.
Licenses - Maintain/renew your life insurance producer license(s) timely each year and send copies of your updated license(s) to Ethos. You should only contact or refer prospective clients in jurisdictions where you are validly licensed and should only market products you are licensed to sell.
E&O Insurance - Maintain at least $1 million in Errors & Omissions coverage, and send a Certificate of Insurance (COI) to Ethos after your annual renewal.
Training - You must complete your required CE timely, as well as any additional training required by Ethos from time-to-time. Ethos may require you to provide documentation regarding CE you have taken.
CAN SPAM - Do not send spam emails. Better to send one-off emails to each client rather than mass “auto-comm” emails. Your emails must have a footer that includes your or your agency’s full name, address, “This is an ad”, and an “Unsubscribe” link.
TCPA - Any time you call or text/SMS clients, ensure compliance with TCPA.
- Do not call or text clients who have not given you prior written permission.
- If you purchase leads from a lead vendor, obtain copies of the written TCPA permission completed by each lead.
- If you send a text, let customers know they can opt-out of future texts by responding “STOP”. If customers opt-out (by responding with “unsubscribe”, “stop”, “don’t contact me” or something similar), you must immediately stop contacting that customer.
- Maintain your own “Do Not Contact” list to ensure you keep track of any customer opt-outs, and ensure you cross-check your list against the Federal and any state “Do Not Call/Contact” lists.
- Only call or text customers during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the customer's timezone). *Florida residents cannot be contacted more than 3 times in a 24-hour period.
- Avoid using an auto-dialer, which is a system capable of dialing random or sequential telephone numbers. “Cold calling” or “cold texting” customers (meaning not having their prior written consent) by use of an auto-dialer is not permitted.
In order to take an application for insurance, you must be appropriately licensed. In addition:
- Remember that the client must provide all application responses. Do not provide or suggest responses for the applicant. If you or the client have questions or need help, please simply contact Ethos directly by calling (415) 322-2037 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For all questions about TruStage applications, please contact our TruStage Concierge.
- Any changes to an application (payment information, beneficiary, etc.) can be made directly by the customer by contacting Ethos. You can also contact Ethos to assist with these changes, but the applicant or policy owner needs to be on the line as well.
From time to time, Ethos will work with agencies that have a life license but have agents who are not life licensed. These agents may make referrals to Ethos, but may not sell, solicit, or negotiate life insurance. Ethos may pay a referral fee but does not pay commissions to agents who do not have a life insurance license. For questions regarding the Ethos program and the scope of your license, please discuss with your agency’s managing partner or compliance team.
All advertising relating to Ethos’s business must always:
- Be Honest. Be Accurate. Be Transparent.
You should default to using marketing materials prepared by Ethos.
If you create your own marketing, you must:
- Submit any proposed marketing/advertising material which references Ethos (or products provided through Ethos) to Ethos for prior approval. Materials related to a specific product and/or mentioning a specific carrier will need to be approved by the carrier as well.
- Follow state and federal laws and regulations regarding life insurance marketing. See our “Top Ten Guidelines for Marketing Materials” for some key compliance issues.
- Always be truthful in all advertising! Consider this the golden rule;
- Do not use a carrier logo or name or reference a specific carrier’s product (as this requires carrier pre-approval). Similarly, any advertisement that uses the Ethos name and/or logo requires prior written approval of Ethos;
- Only say “No medical exam”, if you also say "Applications contain certain health questions" in close proximity and equal prominence;
- Only use testimonials that convey the true and current opinion of the individual, are applicable to the types of policies advertised, and come from unpaid folks (not actors) who have given written permission to use their name and/or picture;
- Never disparage other insurance companies or agencies;
- If you show statistics in your advertising, also include information supporting the source of the information. This source should be recent and reliable;
- Do not imply licensing beyond limits. If an advertisement may be seen or heard beyond the limits of the jurisdiction where you or the insurer is licensed, state that all products or benefits may not be available in all states;
- When advertising includes a sample quote (for example, “life insurance for only $20/mo.”) also include the specific information about the type of policy and insured to which this quote applies. For example, “Sample quote based on 10-year term life insurance $250,000 face amount for a healthy 35-year old non-smoking male.”
- Be clear that you're an independent licensed agent (never imply you're an employee of Ethos); and
- The words “inexpensive,” “free,” “no cost,” “without cost,” “no additional cost, “at no extra cost,” or similar shouldn’t be used unless they truly reflect the cost of the policy to the consumer and prominently disclose the payor’s identity. Any wording implying a “low cost” should never be used with guaranteed issue coverage.
*GRADED DEATH BENEFIT POLICIES ONLY: Advertisements for final expense whole life, where the insured may receive a graded or modified death benefit policy, must make clear the limited benefit. For example, “During the first three years, the death benefit is limited to a return of premium plus interest if the insured dies of natural (non-accidental) causes.”
**The above information is not exhaustive. This is a reference guide with key regulatory compliance requirements. All Ethos agents must comply at all times with all applicable laws and insurance regulations.