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Federal Judge Grants Injunction Against Missouri Navigators Law

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction Thursday against Missouri’s law requiring a state license to serve as a navigator to help consumers sign up for coverage through the new health insurance marketplace...
January 28, 2014

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction Thursday against Missouri’s law requiring a state license to serve as a navigator to help consumers sign up for coverage through the new health insurance marketplace. U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith’s ruling also denied the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge’s ruling said that since Missouri decided not to run its own exchange, it can’t impose additional requirements or limitations. Although the ruling only applies to Missouri's law, it could have major implications for other states that passed similar laws or regulations. Missouri is among 17 states with federally-run marketplaces that enacted legislation imposing requirements on navigators.

PIA National has adopted a position on the role of navigators, advocating for strict standards. PIA believes a navigator’s role should be carefully defined and overseen by the states. We oppose allowing navigators to sell, solicit or negotiate insurance without a proper license. “The best way to serve and protect consumers is to create tight parameters that navigators work within,” PIA’s position paper states. PIA supports strong consumer protections, including requiring errors and omissions liability coverage for navigators. PIA also points out that “unlicensed, untrained navigators could lead to incorrect information being distributed, fraud, market disruption, sensitive consumer information being released and failed consumer protections.”

Regarding the Missouri decision, Larry Case, executive vice president of the PIA-affiliated Missouri Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA), said the ruling eliminates any meaningful oversight for navigators and flies in the face of state regulation of insurance. “In many respects, the judge has created a Wild West ‘buyer beware’ environment for consumers who deal with navigators,” he said. “This provides opportunity for convicted felons or unscrupulous individuals who may have been denied an insurance license or had their license revoked to become a navigator or certified application counselor and gain access to personal information of Missouri consumers.”

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