Bethesda, Md. - Suitability standards for annuity products and long-term care insurance that will apply nationally are the centerpiece of new standards just issued by the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA), a Bethesda, Md.-based standards-setting organization for the life insurance marketplace.   The new IMSA suitability standards incorporate the essential elements of the NAIC model regulations for annuities and long-term care. Inclusion of these provisions means widespread, national application of these consumer protection standards by IMSA companies. They will cover the 60% of the life insurance marketplace represented by IMSA-qualified companies.   "These standards exemplify the best in the marketplace," said Leon Roday, chairman of IMSA chairman and senior vice president and general counsel at Genworth Financial, Richmond, Va. "The national application of the suitability standards among IMSA-qualified companies will benefit consumers with more consistent protections. These uniform standards will also be good for IMSA companies as they will be implementing one set of high standards rather than many different state standards."   In addition to suitability provisions, the new IMSA standards adopt a streamlined methodology to more closely track the compliance approach of companies and regulators. The new IMSA standards are effective immediately with a compliance date of January 1, 2008.   "This latest revision of IMSA's standards is the result of 18 months of work from a wide cross section of our companies including all sizes and product lines," said Brian Atchinson, IMSA president and CEO. For the first time, the group received input from a Standards Advisory Committee made up of representatives from NASD, AARP, NAIC, Standard and Poor's, A.M. Best, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), added Atchinson.   To qualify for IMSA membership, a company must successfully complete an internal assessment of its policies and procedures, and then an assessment by an independent examiner to confirm that it meets IMSA's rigorous Principles of Ethical Market Conduct. To maintain IMSA qualification, a company must demonstrate that ongoing business operations abide by IMSA's strict code of ethical market conduct with a new independent assessment every three years.   Companies that qualify for membership in IMSA commit to maintaining high ethical standards and to being fair, honest, and open in the way they advertise, sell and service life insurance, annuity products, and long-term care insurance in the individual market. For more information about IMSA and a list of IMSA-qualified companies, visit www.IMSAethics.org.     Source: IMSA

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