State of Domicile
State of domicile can be defined as the state in which the insurance company is chartered and licensed to operate under the state’s insurance regulations and statutes. A company is permitted by its state of domicile to operate for the lines of business for which it is certified.
Every state is responsible on regulating and controlling all aspects of insurance. It is committed to ensuring that the consumers are protected and that the insurance companies keep the promises stipulated in the policy contract. Part of the insurance regulation is to make sure that all insurance companies domiciled in the state adhere and uphold the insurance laws governing the state. Company licensing, consumer services, producer licensing, product regulation, financial regulation and market conduct are among the main functions which are included in the insurance regulation structure. All business which caters insurance products and services are required to make policies and terms and condition in accordance with the insurance regulation in their state of domicile.
An insurance company cannot legally operate in a state without obtaining a license first. Individual state laws mandate that all insurance providers as well as insurance-related businesses must be licensed first before selling and providing their products and services to the public. There are an estimated number of 7,200 insurance companies licensed to operate in different areas of the United States. All of these businesses are subject to the laws and regulations of the state where they are licensed to sell insurance. In the event that an insurer, in any manner and for whatever reason fails to comply with the mandated insurance regulations, its license will be a subject to suspension or revocation. The states also impose fines to those who violate insurance regulations in their state of domicile. In 2000, there was a recorded of almost 300 companies in the United States who had their license suspended or revoked. A company licensing system of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners called the Uniform Certificate of Authority Application (UCAA) helps each state in speeding up the review process of releasing new company licenses. There is also a NAIC database developed to assist insurance regulators in maintaining a cost-efficient regulatory process.
Insurance Companies as mentioned are not just required to obtain a license but also to comply with the individual state regulations and laws governing their operations or activities. The state of domicile of all insurance companies ensure that everything in the policy contract and all matters relating to the products and services which insurers provide are offered for the benefit of the consumers. The insurance departments in all states safeguard the interests of the consumers before and after every insurance transaction.
The insurance company’s state of domicile, through its state regulators protects consumers by ascertaining that all provision are unequivocally stated in the contract policy and do not leave any space for misinterpretation that might leave consumers unprotected. The state insurance regulators ensure that the insurance benefits will commensurate to the premiums paid by consumers and that everything in the policy contract is reasonable and fair to the consumers. The regulatory powers exercised by each state may not be uniform because state regulations may vary from one state to another. However, these powers are there not just to protect consumers but also safeguard the condition of every insurance company. The state of domicile ensures that insurance companies are financially sound to be able to provide the benefits promised. If an insurer is experiencing financial trouble, the state will then assist in the process of rehabilitation to restore the former financial condition of the company.