Agents and General Rules of Agency

Dive into the intricacies of agency relationships with our comprehensive guide on Agents and General Rules of Agency. Explore the fundamental principles governing agent-client dynamics, legal obligations, and the crucial role of agents across various industries. Stay informed about the general rules that govern these relationships, ensuring clarity and compliance. Whether you’re an aspiring agent or seeking to understand your rights and responsibilities, our resource provides expert insights. Empower yourself with knowledge on navigating agency dynamics effectively. Explore the world of Agents and General Rules of Agency for informed decision-making. Unlock the key principles now!

Agents and General Rules of Agency

An agent/producer is an individual licensed to sell, solicit or negotiate insurance contracts on behalf of the principal (insurer). The law of agency defines the relationship between the principal and the agent/producer: the acts of the agent/producer within the scope of authority are deemed to be the acts of the insurer.

In this relationship, it is a given that

  • An agent represents the insurer, not the insured;
  • Any knowledge of the agent is presumed to be knowledge of the insurer;
  • If the agent is working within the conditions of his/her contract, the insurer is fully responsible; and
  • When the insured submits payment to the agent, it is the same as submitting a payment to the insurer.

The agent is responsible for accurately completing applications for insurance, submitting the application to the insurer for underwriting, and delivering the policy to the policyowner.

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Authority and Powers of Agents

The agency contract details the authority an agent has within his/her company. Contractually, only those actions that the agent is authorized to perform can bind the principal (insurer). In reality, an agent’s authority is much broader. There are 3 types of agent authority: express, implied, and apparent.

Express

Express authority is the authority a principal intends to grant to an agent by means of the agent’s contract. It is the authority that is written in the contract.

Implied

Implied authority is authority that is not expressed or written into the contract, but which the agent is assumed to have in order to transact the business of insurance for the principal. Implied authority is incidental to and derives from express authority since not every single detail of an agent’s authority can be spelled out in the written contract.

Example:

If the agency contract does not specifically authorize the agent to collect premiums and remit them to the insurer, but the agent routinely does so in the process of solicitation and delivery of policies, the agent has the implied authority to collect and remit premiums.

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Apparent

Apparent authority (also known as perceived authority) is the appearance or the assumption of authority based on the actions, words, or deeds of the principal or because of circumstances the principal created. For example, if an agent uses insurer’s stationery when soliciting coverage, an applicant may believe that the agent is authorized to transact insurance on behalf of the insurer.

Responsibilities to the Applicant or Insured

Although the agents act for the insurer, they are legally obligated to treat applicants and insureds in an ethical manner. Because an agent handles the funds of the insured and the insurer, he/she has fiduciary responsibility. A fiduciary is someone in a position of trust. More specifically, it is illegal for insurance producers to commingle premiums collected from the applicants with their own personal funds.

Market conduct describes the way companies and producers should conduct their business. It is a Code of Ethics for producers. Producers must adhere to certain established procedures, and failure to comply will result in penalties. Some of the market conduct regulations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Conflict of interest;
  • A request of a gift or loan as a condition to complete business; and
  • Supplying confidential information.

Producers are required to perform in a professional manner at all times. Professionalism means that a person is engaged in an occupation requiring an advanced level of training, knowledge, or skill. Being professional means placing the public’s interest above one’s own in all situations. Any deviation could result in a penalty.

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Agents and General Rules of Agency

Dive into the intricacies of agency relationships with our comprehensive guide on Agents and General Rules of Agency. Explore the fundamental principles governing agent-client dynamics, legal obligations, and the crucial role of agents across various industries. Stay informed about the general rules that govern these relationships, ensuring clarity and compliance. Whether you’re an aspiring agent or seeking to understand your rights and responsibilities, our resource provides expert insights. Empower yourself with knowledge on navigating agency dynamics effectively. Explore the world of Agents and General Rules of Agency for informed decision-making. Unlock the key principles now!

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