The National Insurance Producer Registry says 2014 was a record year for processing transactions and inquiries, highlighting the industry’s need and desire for streamlined licensing for benefit brokers and agents.

NIPR in 2014 processed 22 million transactions and producer database inquires, representing a 35% increase over the last five years, according to Karen Stakem Hornig, NIPR executive director. She says the accomplishment “advances NIPR's vision of one-stop shopping for all aspects of electronic producer licensing and equates to more than a half billion dollars collected and transmitted to state insurance departments.”

Agent licensing is handled on a state by state basis, but the increased use of technology has blurred state lines and agents are increasingly working either physically or virtually across the country.

The current environment, however, “makes it a challenge for an adviser to serve a client in another state due to individual state licensing requirements. The requirements are uneven and can be expensive from a time and cost standpoint,” according to Perry Braun, an EBA Advisory Board member and executive director of Benefit Advisors Network.

Even the process of updating a change of address for brokers can be complicated, because the process to do so differs from state to state and often involves time consuming paper forms and manual entry. NIPR’s technology platform allows a producer to complete changes for multiple states using only one online form.

Its electronic licensing tools allow agents to easily apply for or renew a license in resident and non-resident states.

In 2014, NIPR implemented 96 new licensing initiatives, working with 27 different jurisdictions, according to its 2014 Annual Report.

NARAB

President Obama in January signed into law legislation that creates the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers, a federal clearinghouse that will cut through the red tape of state-by-state broker and agent licensing and also aims to streamline the licensing process.

See related: NARAB II signed into law, sets stage for streamlined broker licensing

Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of external and government affairs, says the implementation of NARAB II “may take some time,” but “will provide relief for agents and brokers as well as increased choice for consumers.”

"Given the complexities of establishing the system, it is likely to take some time to get up and running," the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers agrees, adding that it expects NARAB to work closely with NIPR.

While many in the benefits industry are curious to see how NARAB will change the future of agent licensing, they agree technology will be key to its success.

“It is not clear yet whether, or how, NIPR will work with NARAB,” says NAIFA’s McNeely. “But NIPR is well-suited to provide the technological resources NARAB will need.” 

That decision, however, she adds, will be up to the NARAB Board.

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