Helping insurance producers during a pandemic
The Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) has taken many steps to help insurance consumers during the coronavirus pandemic, and that work continues.
We also have found ways to help insurance producers — known as insurance agents and brokers — who may have been affected by the statewide shutdown and resulting economic fallout.
- Our state was the first in the nation to allow insurance producers to take online licensing exams, which started before the pandemic, but our vendor rapidly rolled out statewide as a result. Based on Washington’s experience, a dozen states have now adopted the same practice.
- We allowed producers with renewal dates from March through June until July 31 if they had a COVID-related hardship. We approved all 166 requests we received.
- We expedited the approval for 411 continuing education courses to move online from in-person classrooms. Washington state-based insurance producers are required to complete 24 hours of continuing education in order to renew their license each year.
- We allowed insurance producers who paid renewal fees late to request us to waive the associated penalties if there was a COVID-related reason for being late. We approved all of the 15 requests we received.
The insurance industry is an important part of our state’s economy. As of 2018, the most recent data available, the industry employed accounted for nearly $4.8 billion in wages and salaries.
Washington state licensed just shy of 194,000 insurance producers in 2020. We review their applications and criminal background checks, collect licensing fees, and monitor their required yearly insurance education and their compliance with state laws and rules. From 2015 through 2019, we saw a 35% increase in the number people who filed new insurance producer license applications.