In a typical day of analyzing client needs and researching products to help meet financial goals there probably isn’t a lot of thought given to keeping your license current. Despite this feeling like a side issue to a successful insurance practice, licensing and contracting is a legal requirement for conducting business.
In December of 2015 the state of Wisconsin officially made the change from Vertafore (aka Sircon) to State Based Systems and NIPR for all licensing and appointment transactions. As the 27th state to adopt this model with two more already signed on for the change it’s clear that this is the way the nation is trending, many producers with multiple licenses should be at least peripherally familiar with how this system operates. On a day to day basis this probably will not have much of an effect, but when it is time for your license renewal or to get contracted with a new company there are some key changes to be aware of.
All Wisconsin license numbers have been dissolved. Going forward every Wisconsin license will have the same number as the individual producer’s National Producer Number. You can look up your NPN online and you will need this number in order to print future copies of your license.
The state of Wisconsin is going paperless. Notifications for renewals as well as other important state documents will now be delivered via email rather than through the postal service. Updating you email as well as your postal address can be done through NIPR. Email notices are already being sent out but the state has given a 12 month grace period where they will continue to mail paper notices in order to give producers time to update their information. If you haven’t done so already, log in to NIPR and make sure your correct information is on file.
Continuing education credits are reported differently. While State Based Systems and NIPR are “live” and essentially change as reports are processed the new system requires additional steps that can cause delays, including being passed over from 1 to the other with about a 1 business day turnaround on the processing. While your CE provider may report your completions immediately the state will only process these during business hours. Also CE providers can wait up to 10 days to report and still be compliant.
Additionally the state has made it impossible to pay your renewal fee until CE has been reported by NIPR to State Based Systems. This is a departure from the old system where fees could be paid with or without CE credits done to allow time for providers to report. If your credits are not reported and your fees are not paid prior to your expiration date your license will lapse and the renewal fee doubles.
In order to avoid gaps in licensing, I would recommend being sure to give at least two weeks of lead time to renewals going forward so that all credits can be reported. There is not backdating with an expired license, any applications written when you are unlicensed have to be rewritten after it has been reinstated.
Carrier appointments have also been taking longer as a result of the changes. Please take that into consideration when you are offering new products for companies you have not sold for recently or that you are considering for the first time.
The state did offer a course for producers seeking more information about this transition and has posted a recorded webinar for those that missed out. You can view the webinar here to gain further insights into the workings of the new system. As with any change there will be some adjustments on both sides before things are going smoothly but hopefully this new system will allow for easier access to multiple state licenses and increase efficiency on the state side.
While these changes relate directly to Wisconsin it is a good rule of thumb for everyone, regardless of state, to be proactive about continuing education and keeping licenses current. Lost licenses can directly lead to lost business and lost opportunities for your clients, as well as a lot of additional work getting reappointed with carriers.