The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) has implemented a process for issuing temporary licenses to eligible individuals seeking to become insurance producers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temporary process is being implemented in order to assure the continuity of insurance services and to address the disruption in insurance producer licensing caused by the pandemic, according to a DOBI press release.
The department will begin accepting temporary license applications immediately. The temporary licenses will only be issued during the state of emergency and public health emergency declared by Governor Phil Murphy and will be effective for 30 days following the expiration of the declarations, or for 180 days from the date of issuance, whichever is sooner.
“Currently, all testing locations for licensing examinations in the state are closed due to the pandemic,” said DOBI Commissioner Marlene Caride in the release. “This temporary process will allow New Jerseyans, who took all their prerequisite course work and want to work as insurance agents, to be licensed during the emergency and ensure consumer access to the services they provide.”
Caride stated the department will continue to monitor and make adjustments when appropriate to address challenges created by the crisis.
Normally, insurance agents must complete a pre-licensure course, pass a licensing exam and be fingerprinted before they can apply for a license with the department. With all testing centers in the state closed due to the pandemic, the department is waiving the examination requirement and providing temporary licenses to those who meet certain requirements.
Under a bulletin issued to all producers and insurers in the state, DOBI specified that an insurance company with an active certificate of authority in the state must sponsor the applicant for temporary licensure and assume responsibility for the licensee. The applicant does not need to be an employee of the company but must be actively appointed to represent the sponsoring insurer. The sponsoring insurer must be authorized to write the lines of insurance for which the applicant is applying.
Among other requirements, an applicant for a temporary insurance producer license must be a New Jersey resident, complete a pre-licensing education course and complete the fingerprinting and background check process set forth on the department’s website. Applications must be submitted by the sponsoring insurer. The paper application along with any other requested documentation and fee payment must be mailed as set forth in the bulletin, and applications for temporary licensure cannot be submitted electronically.
The department also issued a bulletin extending for three months the license term for individual producer licenses which expired on or between March 31, 2020, and June 30, 2020. Business entity licenses are also being extended for three months until August 31, 2020.
Additionally, the department issued guidance to insurance education schools waiving the requirement that self-study continuing education courses culminate in a monitored examination of the material presented. In order to facilitate social distancing, for self-study courses taken from March 9, 2020, through June 30, 2020, the examination does not need to be monitored.
These bulletins build on other actions taken by the department to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on residents and businesses, which include directing insurers to provide an emergency grâce period for insurance premiums, expanding access to telehealth and tele-mental health services and encouraging regulated entities to assist residents and businesses affected by COVID-19, among other things.