Life Underwriters Involved in Eudcation, Ethics

Article excerpt

Policing the ethical conduct of its members and providing continuing educational opportunities are just two of the activities of the Oklahoma City Association of Life Underwriters, said Ed Roberts, association president for 1990-91.

In addition, he said the group will continue its public service work.

The Oklahoma City association has 500 members, with a fair mix of independent and ``career shop'' agents, as Roberts termed those who work almost exclusively for one company.

In a recent issue of the association's newsletter, Roberts told members he has been impressed with the quality of the individuals of the group since he first joined in 1952.

He later said most members would ``pass on commission than submit something wrong. You don't find that type of person in the non-member.''

One of the benefits of membership is more earning power for agents, he said, because the information provided at the regular meetings and special continuing education events allows agents to stay on top of changes in the life insurance industry.

Roberts said most of the life insurance agents in Oklahoma City are not members of the association. ``But even though they are not members, they enjoy the benefits, like the lobbying we do. They are getting a free ride.''

He said the local, state and national associations all have lobbying and legislative committees.

``We are always looking at proposed legislation for those things pertinent to our business,'' he said.

The national association has 138,000 members and one of the strongest lobbying forces in Washington D.C., with the sixth largest political action committee in the nation, he said.

``Congress is very much aware of us. And our lobbying force is very well respected in the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.''

Roberts said annual dues for the association are $177, of which $50 goes to the state organization and $50 to the national group to provide the backbone of the lobbying efforts. The remaining $77 combines with other fund-raising activities for a local budget of about $100,000. This money funds the nine meals served during meetings, provides a subscription to Life Association News, pays one full-time executive secretary and provides transportation and other expenses for speakers which are brought in to educate members.

Part of the policing job of the association means having to confront members about the ethics of their behavior.

Roberts said he recently had to speak with association members and attorneys from a large company because of an advertisement which was unethical.

``It was not fair because it did not provide full disclosure,'' he said. ``It was not comparing apples to apples. Even though that advertisement might have been approved by that company - which is based overseas - it did not comply with Oklahoma law. As a result of our efforts, the company withdrew the advertisement.

``We do what we can do with the authority we have. Advertisements have to be fair. They have to tell the whole truth. The beauty of life insurance is that you don't have to fib. …