State Insurance Department officials clarify licensed functions, pledges “cease and desist” orders for violators

OKLAHOMA CITY – Government officials have warned Sooner State consumers that persons acting beyond licensed health insurance functions are violating existing laws and regulations. 

The state Department of Insurance clarified the functions of licensed insurance agents and brokers in a recent bulletin, simultaneously raising a strongly cautionary note as to the role of “Navigators” under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The agency’s missive consisted not of new rules or laws, but directions for consumers on who is – and is not – licensed to perform insurance functions within the state. 

In late August, The Washington Post implied  some states were refusing to enforce consumer protections and/or placing new limits on the federally-created Navigators. 

However, Kelly Collins, director of communications for Oklahoma Commissioner of Insurance John Doak, confirmed the agency’s “purpose was to identify, legally, what navigators can and cannot do. These laws were already on the books.” 

The bulletin circulated in August noted the agency regulates some 120,000 licensed agents and brokers, issuing a total of 335,000 licenses and permits annually. 

The department stressed, in a letter to organizations awarded “Navigator” grants last month, “Oklahoma’s licensed agents and brokers go through extensive education, testing, background checks, and continuing education requirements to ensure that they are able to meet the needs of insurance consumers and can be trusted with consumers’ personal information. Any person who performs actions within the exclusive domain of these licensed agents and brokers without a license will immediately be ordered to cease and desist and will be pursued to the full extent of the law.”

While some insurance-related activities may be performed by non-licensed individuals, Insurance officials underscored the limited nature of those functions.

Commissioner Doak said, “Consumers can feel confident working with licensed agents and brokers and sharing their personal information. These individuals are trained, tested, background checked and insured. Navigators are not regulated by the Insurance Department and cannot provide these assurances. If they perform any of the duties restricted by law to our licensed agents and brokers, we will put a stop to it.”

According to the agency, only licensed agents or brokers may offer advice on which policy to purchase, sign an insurance application and look into the terms of the consumer’s existing coverage among other duties. Non-licensed, or clerical duties include market research, appointment scheduling, recording an applicant’s information, and providing informational brochures.

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