On September 30, 2010, the Florida Department of Financial Services ("DFS") announced a Notice of Proposed Rule Development to adopt Rule 69B:215.235 (the "Proposed Professional Designation Rule"), which was officially published on October 8th. The Proposed Professional Designation Rule is "designed to protect consumers from deceptive trade practices by licensees who claim, or falsely imply, certain levels of expertise or credentials that could reasonably induce consumers to place unwarranted confidence in the quality, accuracy, or veracity of their statements." It does so by setting forth standards relating to the use of certifications and professional designations by licensees engaged in the marketing and sale of insurance products. The text of the Proposed Professional Designation Rule is available here.
The scope of Florida's Proposed Professional Designation Rule is very broad.
- First, the Proposed Professional Designation Rule applies to the marketing and sale of all insurance products instead of only life insurance and annuity products. Thus, it would apply to the marketing of health, disability and property insurance as well.
- Second, the Proposed Professional Designation Rule covers the use of all certifications and professional designations, not just those that are specific to seniors.
Among other things, the Proposed Professional Designation Rule provides a non-exhaustive list of prohibited uses of designations, which include the following:
- Use of a designation conferred by a body that does not have published standards and procedures for assuring the competency of its certificants and does not monitor and discipline such persons for improper or unethical conduct;
- Use of a designation by a person who has not actually earned or is otherwise ineligible to use such designation;
- Use of a nonexistent or self-conferred designation; and
- Use of a designation that indicates or implies a level of occupational qualifications obtained through education, training, or experience that the person using the designation does not have.