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AICP Wrap-Up: Don’t Go Sleepless in Seattle – Hot Topics in Advertising

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Another wonderful AICP National Conference is in the books! Seattle delivered with beautiful weather, and AICP delivered with great content, networking, and compliance insights.

I was honored to be a part of a panel featuring Maureen Perry, Product Reviewer with the Interstate Compact, and Ted Newton, Advertising Review with Mass Mutual. Together we selected what we saw as four overarching issues to be on the lookout for within the world of advertising review for life, health, and annuities.

  1. Consumer Confusion – Who is Offering What?
  2. Carrier Confusion – What is advertising?
  3. Electronic vs. Printed Advertising – Capabilities and Challenges
  4. Consumer Engagement – Plain Language, Disclosure, Engagement

Now, each of these topics could be broken down further and have their own dedicated sessions to really dig into how issues show up and how to tackle them. Still, we were able to discuss lots of ways to manage these hot topics and enjoyed an engaging conversation with the audience.

So how can you address these issues? Here are some of the key takeaways for each category:

  1. The issuing carrier must be made clear and prominent. Some states have more specific requirements about what this means than others, but there should be no question about who is issuing the policy.
  2. The definition of “advertising” is broad, and it’s best to cast a wide net to make sure your company is catching all the ads. If you don’t know if something is considered an ad or not, start with this question, “What is the intent of this flyer/tweet/brochure/tv commercial, etc.” Is it to promote insurance (generally, or specific products), your products, your services, your agents/agencies? If the answer is yes (and there’s a lot of times it’s going to be a yes) – then it’s an ad and needs to be handled as such.
  3. When it comes to electronic vs. printed ads, there are pros and cons on both sides. We talked a lot about space restrictions and how specific you can get in a limited space ad. Rule of thumb – less space, less specific.
  4. Finally, we rounded out our discussion with a big trend, which is the use of “plain language” or “plain English” in both insurance ads and in the contracts, themselves. We expect to see challenges to the traditional language and terminology that’s used in the insurance space for lots of reasons – target markets, selling products direct to consumer are just a couple of the drivers – while the idea of having language that’s familiar and understandable is certainly appealing from a compliance perspective (we want people to clearly understand how it works, what they’re buying). What that looks like while still having protection measures in place against litigation and/or regulatory violations is still very much up in the air. That said, it’s important for compliance professionals and regulators to keep an open mind here and work with others on what makes sense. There’s lots of room at the table to make insurance more accessible and understandable, it just needs open minds and discussions to make sure it stays reasonable and not simplified to the point it creates expectations that aren’t accurate.

If you’re interested in hearing more about these topics, drop us a line with any questions or comments you have or advertising issues you’re struggling with!!