Around 3 million individuals in the U.S. are employed in the insurance industry in some capacity; many, including insurance agents, adjusters, and administrators, require licensure by one or more state agencies to perform their duties. A detailed application must be filed, and some applicants find that prior criminal activity can bar licensure for 7-15 years—or permanently. This blog will cover various disqualifying periods for insurance professionals.
What Do the Florida Statutes Say?
The Florida Statutes, Section 626.207 lay out distinct disqualifying periods for varying classifications of crimes. Permanent bars for insurance licensure include convictions, guilty pleas, or nolo contendere (no contest) pleas of the following:
- Felony of the first degree
- Capital felony
- Felony involving money laundering, fraud, or embezzlement
- Felony directly related to the financial services business
Aside from permanent disqualification, the following offenses mandate a 15-year disqualifying period:
- Any conviction, guilty plea, or nolo contendere plea of any felony involving moral turpitude that does not result in a permanent bar
The following will result in 7-year disqualifying periods:
- Any felonies that do not result in 15-year or permanent licensure bars
- Misdemeanors directly related to the financial services business
An important note is that, even after the disqualifying period ends, you (as the applicant) have the burden of proving that you are rehabilitated and are otherwise qualified for licensure as an insurance professional. The disqualifying period begins once you are released from your prison sentence and have paid all other restitution.
Are There Ways Around Permanent Bars?
The Department of Financial Services, Office of Insurance Regulation, and Office of Financial Regulation are tasked with licensing applicants to the insurance industry. Though existing law gives these departments and agencies the authority to place permanent bars on individuals with certain crimes on their record, this has been successfully challenged before.
A noteworthy case is Kauk vs. Department of Financial Services (2014). This case involved the plaintiff (Kauk) challenging his denial of insurance agent licensure on a permanent basis. Kauk had pled guilty to manufacturing and passing counterfeit $10 bills, which was a felony involving fraud. The Florida First District Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the department’s denial based on the fact that Kauk’s civil rights had been restored by the Governor of Florida and he was “a citizen fully rehabilitated.” Since his civil rights had been restored, the court decided the permanent bar from licensure violated the Florida Constitution. As a result, the permanent bar from licensure in Florida can be avoided in certain circumstances.
Our Firm Wants to See You Succeed
These strict guidelines imposed by Florida departments and agencies related to insurance licensure are meant to protect the insurance-buying public. If you are subject to a time limitation or permanent bar from licensure, state agencies may deny your application without advising you that you may be entitled to relief. Our firm believes once a person has paid their debt to society an honest, rehabilitated individual should have an avenue to reclaim their professional lives. We are here to assist you in resuming your chosen profession.
Permanent licensure bars, in particular, can—and should— be challenged by an experienced attorney like Barry M. Wax. If you are in this situation or a similar one, we would be honored to help. Call our firm at 305-373-4400 to discuss your options.