In its continuing efforts to protect agents against punitive state legislation, ASTA is praising the California Legislature and commending its California members for their efforts to secure passage of a bill (AB 2354). The bill permits travel agents to offer travel insurance under special rules, as long as consumer protections are followed.
The bill, signed into law by the Governor on Sept. 7 and effective Jan. 1, 2013, significantly reduces excessive burden on California travel agencies while offering greater transparency for consumers, ASTA reports.
"With the passage of this bill, consumers, travel agents and travel insurance providers alike are all winners," said ASTA President and Chair Nina Meyer. "Because of the hard work of ASTA's California members, alongside representatives of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, travel agencies in California will soon be free to go on with their day-to-day business without having to meet overly burdensome licensing requirements."
ASTA reports it worked closely with the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA) and the California Coalition of Travel Organizations (CCTO) to rally support from California travel agencies, supplying them with a variety of tools to assist them in making their voices heard by state representatives.
"ASTA owes UStiA and CCTO a tremendous debt for their work in seeing this bill through. Both groups worked tirelessly to see that it passed, and we thank them for their support. Special thanks are also due to Marilyn Zelaya, president of ASTA's Northern California Chapter, for representing ASTA at a hearing of the California Assembly Committee on Insurance in April, and to the Southern California Chapter for its grassroots efforts," added Meyer.
With enactment of this bill, California's insurance commissioner now has the ability to follow new standards that track closely with those approved by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2010, ASTA said.
ASTA notes that although the bill is now law, it will not become effective until Jan. 1, 2013, and it may take a few months for the California insurance commissioner to establish new procedures for insurance providers to follow.
Because of this, as well as the remaining need to have licenses in other states that have yet to adopt this approach, ASTA advises members to consult with their insurance provider and/or their own counsel before dropping their current licenses, ASTA said.
For additional information, contact John Pittman, ASTA's vice president of Industry Affairs.