Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today announced a new pilot program that will assist individuals with criminal records who are interested in obtaining a resident producer license in the commonwealth. The Preliminary Licensing Determination program will provide guidance to applicants with criminal records on how their specific convictions, history and background may affect their ability to successfully apply for formal licensure in Pennsylvania.
"The Wolf Administration is dedicated to providing a pathway to employment for all Pennsylvanians, including those with a criminal record," Commissioner Altman said. "While some criminal records will preclude individual applicants from licensure, there are also many individuals whose criminal records would not prevent them from meeting all of the requirements to become a licensed insurance agent. The department is committed to making the process of applying for an insurance producer license more transparent. The pre-licensing determination process will help applicants understand if their criminal convictions will preclude them from licensure without first having to go through the expense of pre-licensing programs and the formal application process."
Commonwealth residents and non-residents who wish to sell, solicit, or negotiate contracts of insurance in Pennsylvania must obtain a producer license from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID). A number of factors are considered when evaluating applications, and an individual's criminal history does not always exclude them from moving forward through the process.
The pre-licensing determination program is an optional step that provides guidance on the formal licensing process. Individuals can submit a screening application on PID's website, which will include information on their charges and convictions, the circumstances surrounding their conviction, and all relevant court documents related to the conviction. Submissions are securely sent electronically to a PID determination specialist. The specialist will review the case and make a final determination; applicants will be notified of their results through the mail. The program is available to Pennsylvania residents.
Individuals who have completed the preliminary licensing determination process must still follow and meet the additional criteria defined in the Producer Licensing Act to obtain a producer license in Pennsylvania. In addition, the outcome of the preliminary licensing determination is not a final determination and does not guarantee a successful application for licensure. Certain criminal convictions, including breach-of-trust felony convictions, will necessarily continue to lead to denial of licensure.
Along with the predetermination program, the Department this week also released its first Annual Licensing report, providing additional information to potential licensees. The report lists the types of convictions and circumstances that have led to the denial of producer licensure applications over the past fiscal year. PID always strives for rational judgement regarding past convictions, and a criminal record should not necessarily be a deterrent to those seeking licensure. The annual report can help to guide those with convictions through the predetermination process by providing real-life examples of the types of convictions that would lead to a denial.
"Pennsylvanians who have interacted with the justice system deserve the opportunity to reintegrate into their community, and to pursue good paying, family sustaining jobs," said Altman. "The insurance department is proud to offer this service to individuals working towards rehabilitating themselves and securing a meaningful career in the insurance industry."
Criminal justice reform and occupational licensure reform are key priorities for the Wolf Administration. Governor Wolf signed Act 53 in 2020, modernizing job licensing requirements and removing outdated licensing barriers with improvements for the 29 occupational licensing boards, providing individuals with criminal records an opportunity at a second chance to secure employment. In 2018, Governor Wolf signed the landmark Clean Slate law, which allows individuals to petition the courts for their records to be sealed if a person has been free from conviction for 10 years for an offense that resulted in a year or more in prison and has paid all court-ordered financial debts.
In addition, through an Executive Order, the Wolf administration created "ban the box" to remove questions about criminal histories from state employment applications. Banning the box allows applicants with criminal records to be judged on their skills and qualifications and not solely on their criminal history, while preserving the appropriate evaluation during the hiring process.
For more information about the Preliminary Licensing Determination program and to submit a screening application, please visit www.insurance.pa.gov/Licensees/pre-licensing-determination/.
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