Insurance Agencies Disallowed to Post Testimonials on Site


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I just had a very interesting case. I am working with an insurance agency that claims they are disallowed to post testimonials on their website as per FINRA/SEC regulations. These regulation apparently apply to all businesses related to financing. This is the first time I hear about this and I was wondering if anyone else has had similar experience with insurance agencies or other financial services companies.
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Nyag,

Colan and Joy specialize in Insurance so I'm sure if it's an issue they probably know something about it. Hopefully they are off enjoying Vday with their honeys tonight but they'll probably weigh in tomorrow.
 

Marie Ysais

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Hi Nyagoslav,
In my other life I had to know the SEC and FINRA rules like the back of my hand......
and it is true that the SEC and FINRA do not allow any type of testimonials are strictly prohibited. A lot of the rules are changing with the social media and online explosion but if they are governed by SEC and FINRA rules then they will have an SEC attorney or adviser and they will know if testimonials/reviews are prohibited.

There is also a ton of debate right now regarding LinkedIN recommendations and the idea that even those are testimonials.
 
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Thanks Marie! Are you still following the updates around their rules, or is it something you left back in your previous life? :)
 

Marie Ysais

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I still follow the rules as I am doing SEO for a company that is governed by the rules. It is a mess and right now everyone is tip toeing around social media and the websites. The SEC attorney I am in contact with is still advising absolutely no testimonials of any type on social media, websites and so on.
 
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Oh, the social media part is new to me! Do you mean they are also "not encouraged" to use Facebook, Twitter, etc? How far does this rule go, i.e. what is considered social media?
 

Marie Ysais

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It's crazy and the rules and regulations are up for interpretation which means someone can read the rules and get a whole different meaning. As far as social media, LinkedIN, twitter , Facebook, all of it. They are not advising against using it they are actually encouraging a company that is regulated to get technology or software that will keep track of everything they put out there.

This isn't something the SEC and FINRA sit around looking for but if the company gets caught on other rules they will also check into items such as these. To this date no one has been penalized for social media it is all to new to FINRA and the SEC and all we can do is watch and wait......

The company I work with has social media but the company itself does not say, so and so loves our company. They do not post reviews on their website. But it is to each their own on how well they follow the rules or do not follow the rules. It is best to always ask the company and their adviser.
 

JoyHawkins

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Any captive agents (State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, Geico) don't have control over their sites so they can only do whatever their corporate office "allows them". Independent agents have full control of their sites and a lot of the ones I've seen have testimonials.

The new Nationwide sites have testimonials - Sylvia Antionette Garrett, Columbus, OH Insurance Agency | OH Office

I can't imagine a company that size doing that without checking the legal rules.
 

JoyHawkins

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I asked some people I work with an independent broker replied with:

I haven?t heard of this, but we are not subject to FINRA/SEC because we don?t sell any indexed financial products. We only sell fixed annuities and similar. I would ask them to post the reference or regulation code/# where it says this.

I have heard in the past that Financial Advisors have issues with crazy advertising rules because of laws pertaining to the products they sell. I don't think it applies to the P+C Insurance market though.
 

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