Tuesday, June 25, 2013

2013 June/July OIC

As the licensing and education manager for the state insurance commissioner’s office, I’d like to take a moment to bring the NAIFA membership up to date on what’s happening within my program – and to ask for your input.

Online Licensing – The OIC has prioritized moving the licensing processes online since 2007.  Progress over the past six years has been steady, building our online services piece by piece. I am pleased to inform you that at the end of May 2013, more than 99 percent  of all state insurance licensing transactions are being completed online. As a result, in most cases it’s now significantly faster to obtain or renew an insurance license.

I would like your feedback on your experiences with the online licensing system. What can we do to make it better or easier for you to use?  Most of our best ideas for improvements come from those that use our system.  Send us your suggestions!

Electronic Fingerprinting – The latest piece of the online initiative has been electronic submission of fingerprints.  Washington residents are required to submit fingerprints for a state and federal background check as a part of the application process.  As a result, background results have been returned to the OIC within the same day as the fingerprints were submitted for a large percentage of applicants.  This is a significant improvement over the 2-3 week for returned results for hardcopy fingerprints.  At the end of May 2013, 94% of all fingerprints were submitted electronically. 

Should you or your agency decide to hire additional licensees, I would encourage you to recommend submitting electronic fingerprints.  A potential hire can schedule their fingerprinting appointment at the same time as their licensing exam (the equipment is located in the Pearson VUE exam centers) or choose from more than 20 other locations around the state .  For a complete list of locations, please visit our website (www.insurance.wa.gov).

Free-form Email project – This project was created to allow the insurance commissioner’s office a streamlined method to directly email our licensees, and this is another situation in which we’d like to get your feedback.

Here’s the background: While we have been able to send mass email out previously, the process was antiquated and time consuming.  To remedy that, we had a free-form email function built directly into our computerized licensing system.  This allows us to create, send, and document correspondence to our licensees.  It also provides us with many filtering options to reach different sets of recipients. For example, we can choose recipients by license type, by state, by lines of authority, by education provider type, or even limit it to specific counties in WA.   The choices can be very selective or include all licensees, and will automatically note on each licensee’s record the date and subject of the email sent.

We will be soft-launching the project in the coming weeks with an email to all licensees regarding travel licenses.  Going forward, we’ll assess how to best utilize this tool and I’m asking for your feedback:

1) What types of notices would you prefer to receive from the OIC?  (Examples – law/rule
changes, change in licensing processes, etc.) 

2) How often would you want to receive email notices from the OIC? (Suggestions include    
sending a notice whenever there is an update, only sending notice once per month with
multiple updates, only once per quarter  with multiple updates, or some other frequency)

No one appreciates having their inbox routinely flooded with messages.  On the other hand, no one wants to discover being out of compliance due to not being informed of changes. We want to strike the right balance so that we have an informed community of producers without sending too much. This is why I’m asking you to take a moment to consider the options and provide your feedback.

 If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or my staff.

Jeff Baughman,                                                            Licensing Information
Licensing & Education Program Manager                   licinfo@oic.wa.gov
Office of the Insurance Commissioner                        360-725-7144
State of Washington

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