The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on November 22, 2005 representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
Re: Check Address
Must an agent's expense and premium checks show the actual address of the insurance agent's office or may it show the address of the founder of the company who is no longer active in the agency?
If an address is shown on the agency's checks, it must be an address that the Department has on file for the agency, and which is a bona fide office of the agency.
An agent states that his employer's father is the founder of the insurance agency that he works for and that the agency's founder insists that the company's premium and expense checks show his home address, rather than the address of the agency office. In addition, the agent states that the founder is no longer active in the agency and the only address on record with the Department is that of the insurance agency's office itself. The agent would like to know if there is a requirement that checks display the address of the insurance agency.
Preliminarily, it is unclear what interest, if any, the founder currently has in the agency as he is no longer active in the company, or why the employer would agree to such a request. A sub-licensee of an agency has the responsibility to act appropriately and not in an incompetent or untrustworthy manner and is responsible for the company's actions. The use of the founder's address raises the question as to whether the account will be under proper supervision by the sub-licensee. With regards to addresses displayed on the checks, N.Y. Ins. Law § 2134(a) provides: "A licensee under this article shall inform the superintendent by a means acceptable to the superintendent of a change of address within thirty days of the change."
Section 21.4 of 11 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. Tit. 11 Part 21 (Reg 5), Section 22.3 of 11 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. Tit. 11 Part 22 (Reg 6), Section 23.4 of 11 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. Tit. 11 Part 23 (Reg 7) all provide that: "Each licensee is required to notify the Insurance Department, Albany, New York of any change of business or residence address within 30 days of the change."
While there is no requirement in the Insurance Law that a check must show an address; however, if it does, it must be an address that is on file with the Department, which in the present case would only be the agency office. Further, by the use of an address on the check, the licensee gives the impression that the address is an office, which could be misleading if the address is not in fact that of the licensee. Accordingly, the address should be a bona fide address of the licensee and the Department must be notified of any address used by the licensee.
For further information you may contact Principal Attorney Alan Rachlin at the New York City office.