HB 331 – AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 331
This bill establishes standards of conduct for insurers and their producers advertising property and casualty insurance. This bill grants rulemaking authority to the insurance commissioner.
This bill is a request of the insurance department.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine
AN ACT relative to advertisements of property and casualty insurance.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
412-B:1 Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to establish standards of conduct for insurers and their producers advertising property and casualty insurance to prevent unfair, deceptive and misleading advertising.
I. This chapter shall only apply to any property and casualty insurance “advertisement,” as defined in RSA 412-B:3, which the insurer or producer knows or should reasonably know is intended for presentation, distribution, or dissemination in this state when the presentation, distribution, or dissemination is made either directly or indirectly by or on behalf of an insurer or producer, as those terms are defined in Title XXXVII.
II. Every insurer shall establish and, at all times, maintain a system of control over the content, form, and method of dissemination of all advertisements of its policies. All of the insurer’s advertisements, regardless of who wrote, created, designed, or presented them, shall be the responsibility of the insurer whose policies are advertised.
III. Advertising materials that are reproduced in quantity shall be identified by form numbers or other identifying means. The identification shall be sufficient to distinguish an advertisement from any other advertising materials, policies, applications, or other materials used by the insurer.
412-B:3 Definitions. In this chapter:
I.(a) “Advertisement” means:
(1) Printed and published material, audiovisual material, and descriptive literature of an insurer or insurance producer used in direct mail, newspapers, magazines, radio and television scripts, websites and other Internet-based displays or communications, other forms of electronic communications, and billboards and similar displays.
(2) Descriptive literature and sales aids of all kinds issued or authored by, or on behalf of, an insurer or producer for presentation to members of the insurance-buying public, including, but not limited to circulars, leaflets, booklets, web pages, depictions, illustrations, form letters, and lead-generating devices of all kinds.
(3) Prepared sales talks, presentations, and material for use by producers, whether prepared by the insurer or the insurance producer, that is designed to be used or is used to induce the public to purchase, increase, modify, or otherwise change a property and casualty insurance policy.
(4) Material included with a policy when the policy is delivered and material used in the solicitation of renewals and reinstatements.
(b) “Advertisement” does not include:
(1) Material used solely for the training and education of an insurer’s employees and producers.
(2) Communications and material used within an insurer’s own organization not intended for dissemination to the public.
(3) Individual communications of a personal nature with current policyholders other than material urging the policyholders to modify coverage or otherwise change policy provisions.
(4) Court-approved material ordered by a court to be disseminated to policyholders.
II. “Commissioner” means the insurance commissioner.
III. “Person” means a natural person, association, organization, partnership, trust, group, corporation, or any other entity.
IV. “Prominently” or “conspicuously” means that the disclosed information is presented in a manner that is noticeably set apart from other information or images in the advertisement.
412-B:4 Format and Content of Advertisements.
I. The format and content of an advertisement shall be complete and clear and shall not be deceptive or misleading.
II. An advertisement shall not exaggerate cost savings or coverage beyond the terms of the policy or the amount of premium the purchaser can expect to pay or save for that coverage.
III. No insurer or producer shall solicit residents of this state for the purchase of property and casualty insurance through the use of deceptive or misleading testimonials.
IV. Terms such as “official” or words of similar import, used to describe any policy or application form are prohibited because of the potential for deceiving or misleading the public.
V. An advertisement shall not contain or use words, letters, initials, symbols, or other devices that are similar to those used by governmental agencies and shall not imply or state that a governmental agency has endorsed or recommended the producer, the insurer, the insurer’s financial condition, any policy, or any advertisement.
VI. An advertisement shall not contain or use words, letters, initials, symbols, or other devices that are similar to those used by another unaffiliated insurer or producer.
VII. Advertisements shall disclose exclusions, reductions in coverage, limitations, and any other restrictions affecting basic provisions of the policy. This disclosure shall be conspicuous and in close proximity to the statements to which the information relates, and shall not be minimized, rendered obscure, or presented in an ambiguous fashion or intermingled with the context of the advertisements so as to be confusing or misleading.
VIII. The name of the actual insurer shall be stated in all advertisements related to insurance policies. An advertisement shall not use a trade name, an insurance group designation, a name of the parent company of the insurer, a name of the particular division of the insurer, a service mark, a slogan, a symbol, or other device if such use is misleading or is deceptive as to the true identity of the insurer.
IX. An advertisement of an individual policy shall not falsely represent directly or by implication that a contract or combination of contracts is an introductory, initial, or special offer, or that applications will receive substantial advantages not available at a later date, or that the offer is available only to a specified group of individuals.
X. An advertisement shall not contain misleading representations or incomplete or fraudulent comparisons of insurance policies or insurers for the purpose of inducing, or tending to induce, a person to surrender, terminate, retain, pledge, or assign an insurance policy, or to take out a policy of insurance with another insurer.
XI. An advertisement shall not employ, explicitly or through implication, force, fright, threat, or undue pressure to induce the purchase of insurance, including but not limited to, stressing the urgency of a reply, or advising that the recipient of the advertisement “MUST ACT NOW” in order to secure the advertised policy at the quoted price or price savings.
XII. Advertisements shall not directly or indirectly make unfair or incomplete comparisons of policies or benefits, or comparisons of non-comparable policies of other insurers, and shall not disparage competitors or their policies, services, or business methods, and shall not disparage or unfairly minimize competing methods of marketing insurance.
XIII. An advertisement which the insurer or producer uses to solicit leads shall disclose that the insurer or producer will contact the applicant.
412-B:5 Use of Statistics.
I. An advertisement providing statistical or financial information relating to an insurer or its policies shall reflect only current, relevant, and accurate facts, as to the consumer targeted. The advertisement shall not imply that the statistics are derived from the policy advertised unless that is true, and shall specifically so state.
II. The source of any statistics used in an advertisement shall be identified in the advertisement.
III. Advertisements that make representations concerning premium differences or other cost savings compared to a competing insurer shall be based on factual information.
IV. Advertisements targeting a specific individual that make representations concerning premium differences or other cost savings compared to a competing insurer shall be based on factual information that is relevant to the individual.
V. The insurer shall retain and shall supply to the commissioner upon request, the statistical information supporting all facts asserted in any advertisement.
412-B:6 Record Retention. An insurer shall maintain a complete file of all marketing information to enable the commissioner to readily ascertain compliance with the provisions of this chapter. The file shall contain every printed, published, or prepared advertisement of its policies disseminated in this state, with a notation attached to each advertisement that indicates the manner and extent of distribution and the form number of any policy advertised. The file shall be subject to regular and periodical inspection by the commissioner, and shall be maintained in accordance with the provisions of RSA 400-B.
412-B:7 Filing for Prior Review The commissioner may, in the commissioner’s discretion, require the filing of any property and casualty insurance advertising material for review prior to use.
412-B:8 Rulemaking. The commissioner may adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, as necessary to effect the purposes of this chapter.
412-B:9 Penalty Provisions.
I. Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be subject to license revocation or suspension or fine of $2,500 per violation or both.
II. If a violation of this chapter is also deemed to be a violation of RSA 417 as an unfair trade practice, then the penalties set forth in RSA 417 shall also apply.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2010.