The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) recently issued Bulletin 2019-05 which provides guidance to insurance agents who wish to give promotional or advertising items to potential insureds or insureds in exchange for the opportunity to market insurance products. This bulletin supersedes, replaces and rescinds Bulletin 2009-13 which was issued in 2009 by then ODI Superintendent Mary Jo Hudson.
While the content of the updated bulletin is relatively the same as it had been in past years which generally provides that ODI does not interpret the offering of promotional and advertising items, or meals to be an unfair inducement provided the item does not exceed $50 and is not tied to the purchase of an insurance product, it does provide significant clarification for agents who want to hold contests, raffles and drawings.
The updated bulletin contains language to address contests, raffles and drawings that involve a prize in excess of $50. The bulletin clarifies that as long as the raffle or drawing is open to the general public where all participants are given a free chance to win, so long as it is not tied to the sale or solicitation of insurance and no purchase or renewal of insurance is required to enter, win, or claim the prize, it is not considered an unlawful solicitation or promotion even if the gift exceeds $50 in value. Bottomline: you can hold a contest, raffle or drawing with a prize that is worth more than $50 as long as it is open to everyone and participation is not contingent on the person obtaining a quote or purchasing or renewing a policy.
OIA routinely receives questions about rebating and inducements. If you have questions, contact Carolyn Mangas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ohio Insurance Agents Association, Inc. (OIA) provides this information with the express understanding that 1) no attorney-client relationship exists, 2) neither OIA nor its attorneys are engaged in providing legal advice and 3) that the information is of a general character. You should not rely on this information when dealing with personal or professional legal matters; rather, seek legal advice from retained legal counsel.