(1)(a) No person may be, act as, or advertise or hold himself or herself out to be an insurance agent, insurance adjuster, or customer representative unless he or she is currently licensed by the department and appointed by an appropriate appointing entity or person.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (6) or in applicable department rules, and in addition to other conduct described in this chapter with respect to particular types of agents, a license as an insurance agent, service representative, customer representative, or limited customer representative is required in order to engage in the solicitation of insurance. For purposes of this requirement, as applicable to any of the license types described in this section, the solicitation of insurance is the attempt to persuade any person to purchase an insurance product by:
1. Describing the benefits or terms of insurance coverage, including premiums or rates of return;
2. Distributing an invitation to contract to prospective purchasers;
3. Making general or specific recommendations as to insurance products;
4. Completing orders or applications for insurance products;
5. Comparing insurance products, advising as to insurance matters, or interpreting policies or coverages; or
6. Offering or attempting to negotiate on behalf of another person a viatical settlement contract as defined in s. 626.9911.
However, an employee leasing company licensed pursuant to chapter 468 which is seeking to enter into a contract with an employer that identifies products and services offered to employees may deliver proposals for the purchase of employee leasing services to prospective clients of the employee leasing company setting forth the terms and conditions of doing business; classify employees as permitted by s. 468.529; collect information from prospective clients and other sources as necessary to perform due diligence on the prospective client and to prepare a proposal for services; provide and receive enrollment forms, plans, and other documents; and discuss or explain in general terms the conditions, limitations, options, or exclusions of insurance benefit plans available to the client or employees of the employee leasing company were the client to contract with the employee leasing company. Any advertising materials or other documents describing specific insurance coverages must identify and be from a licensed insurer or its licensed agent or a licensed and appointed agent employed by the employee leasing company. The employee leasing company may not advise or inform the prospective business client or individual employees of specific coverage provisions, exclusions, or limitations of particular plans. As to clients for which the employee leasing company is providing services pursuant to s. 468.525(4), the employee leasing company may engage in activities permitted by ss. 626.7315, 626.7845, and 626.8305, subject to the restrictions specified in those sections. If a prospective client requests more specific information concerning the insurance provided by the employee leasing company, the employee leasing company must refer the prospective business client to the insurer or its licensed agent or to a licensed and appointed agent employed by the employee leasing company.
(2) No agent or customer representative shall solicit or otherwise transact as agent or customer representative, or represent or hold himself or herself out to be an agent or customer representative as to, any kind or kinds of insurance as to which he or she is not then licensed and appointed.
(3) No person shall act as an adjuster as to any class of business for which he or she is not then licensed and appointed.
(4) No person shall be, act as, or represent or hold himself or herself out to be a service representative unless he or she then holds a currently effective service representative license and appointment. This subsection does not apply as to similar representatives or employees of casualty insurers whose duties are restricted to health insurance.
(5) No person shall be, act as, or represent or hold himself or herself out to be a managing general agent unless he or she then holds a currently effective managing general agent license and appointment.
(6) An individual employed by a life or health insurer as an officer or other salaried representative may solicit and effect contracts of life insurance or annuities or of health insurance, without being licensed as an agent, when and only when he or she is accompanied by and solicits for and on the behalf of a licensed and appointed agent.
(7)(a) Effective October 1, 2006, no individual, firm, partnership, corporation, association, or any other entity shall act in its own name or under a trade name, directly or indirectly, as an insurance agency, unless it complies with s. 626.172 with respect to possessing an insurance agency license for each place of business at which it engages in any activity which may be performed only by a licensed insurance agent. Each agency engaged in business in this state before January 1, 2003, which is wholly owned by insurance agents currently licensed and appointed under this chapter, each incorporated agency whose voting shares are traded on a securities exchange, each agency designated and subject to supervision and inspection as a branch office under the rules of the National Association of Securities Dealers, and each agency whose primary function is offering insurance as a service or member benefit to members of a nonprofit corporation may file an application for registration in lieu of licensure in accordance with s. 626.172(3). Each agency engaged in business before October 1, 2006, shall file an application for licensure or registration on or before October 1, 2006.
1. If an agency is required to be licensed but fails to file an application for licensure in accordance with this section, the department shall impose on the agency an administrative penalty in an amount of up to $10,000.
2. If an agency is eligible for registration but fails to file an application for registration or an application for licensure in accordance with this section, the department shall impose on the agency an administrative penalty in an amount of up to $5,000.
(b) A registered insurance agency shall, as a condition precedent to continuing business, obtain an insurance agency license if the department finds that, with respect to any majority owner, partner, manager, director, officer, or other person who manages or controls the agency, any person has:
1. Been found guilty of, or has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to, a felony in this state or any other state relating to the business of insurance or to an insurance agency, without regard to whether a judgment of conviction has been entered by the court having jurisdiction of the cases.
2. Employed any individual in a managerial capacity or in a capacity dealing with the public who is under an order of revocation or suspension issued by the department. An insurance agency may request, on forms prescribed by the department, verification of any person’s license status. If a request is mailed within 5 working days after an employee is hired, and the employee’s license is currently suspended or revoked, the agency shall not be required to obtain a license, if the unlicensed person’s employment is immediately terminated.
3. Operated the agency or permitted the agency to be operated in violation of s. 626.747. 4. With such frequency as to have made the operation of the agency hazardous to the insurance-buying public or other persons:
a. Solicited or handled controlled business. This subparagraph shall not prohibit the licensing of any lending or financing institution or creditor, with respect to insurance only, under credit life or disability insurance policies of borrowers from the institutions, which policies are subject to part IX of chapter 627.
b. Misappropriated, converted, or unlawfully withheld moneys belonging to insurers, insureds, beneficiaries, or others and received in the conduct of business under the license.
c. Unlawfully rebated, attempted to unlawfully rebate, or unlawfully divided or offered to divide commissions with another.
d. Misrepresented any insurance policy or annuity contract, or used deception with regard to any policy or contract, done either in person or by any form of dissemination of information or advertising.
e. Violated any provision of this code or any other law applicable to the business of insurance in the course of dealing under the license.
f. Violated any lawful order or rule of the department.
g. Failed or refused, upon demand, to pay over to any insurer he or she represents or has represented any money coming into his or her hands belonging to the insurer.
h. Violated the provision against twisting as defined in s. 626.9541(1)(l).
i. In the conduct of business, engaged in unfair methods of competition or in unfair or deceptive acts or practices, as prohibited under part IX of this chapter.
j. Willfully overinsured any property insurance risk.
k. Engaged in fraudulent or dishonest practices in the conduct of business arising out of activities related to insurance or the insurance agency.
l. Demonstrated lack of fitness or trustworthiness to engage in the business of insurance arising out of activities related to insurance or the insurance agency.
m. Authorized or knowingly allowed individuals to transact insurance who were not then licensed as required by this code.
5. Knowingly employed any person who within the preceding 3 years has had his or her relationship with an agency terminated in accordance with paragraph (d).
6. Willfully circumvented the requirements or prohibitions of this code.
(8) No insurance agent, insurance agency, or other person licensed under the Insurance Code may pay any fee or other consideration to an unlicensed person other than an insurance agency for the referral of prospective purchasers to an insurance agent which is in any way dependent upon whether the referral results in the purchase of an insurance product.
(9) Any person who knowingly transacts insurance or otherwise engages in insurance activities in this state without a license in violation of this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.