You might think that they are dead. You might even take credit for killing them. But Zombie Laws survive the best efforts of dedicated legislators, the light of day, or even common sense. The link is to an example in Georgia, but we in Ohio have our fair share of Zombies. There is a reason why these poorly thought out regulations, back-door giveaways, or clearly unpopular concepts fail to be passed as standalone legislation and often die in committee. That would be OK if these Zombies didn’t reappear as an amendment to must pass legislation or snuck into the biannual budget.
Many of us in the insurance industry thought that we had vanquished last year’s House Bill 675 before it could harm Ohio’s senior citizen population. We just learned that the key provisions have been inserted into House Bill 33, the current Ohio budget bill. This is the pertinent section:
The superintendent shall not prohibit the following types of solicitation: 57427 57428 (a) Print solicitation such as leaflets, flyers, or door hangers left at residences or on motor vehicles; 57429 57430 (b) In-person solicitations of individuals at the individual’s residence or in public or common areas such as parking lots, hallways, lobbies, or sidewalks; 57431 57432 57433 (c) Telephonic or electronic solicitation such as electronic voicemail messages, text messages, or direct social media messages.
Here are two scenes from the not-too-distant future:
Four white-haired gentlemen enjoying breakfast at McDonald’s were approached by two individuals, a man and a woman, both in business attire and carrying briefcases. The man addressed the diners while the woman opened her laptop.
“Good morning gentlemen. I am agent Rogers and this is agent Moore. As per Ohio Representative Bill Dean, we are here about Ohio House Bill 33 signed into law by Governor DeWine on May 26, 2023. This will take just a few moments. We need your name and the name of your Medicare Supplement company.”
As Bob reached into his pocket to find his insurance card, a young mother rushed over to the table. “These two aren’t government agents. They’re insurance agents. I saw them here last week.” Rogers, the insurance agent, started to protest that they were allowed to solicit Medicare Supplements at public places and even McDonald’s. Bob noted that this might be legal, but it certainly isn’t right.
The elderly couple pushed their shopping cart through the parking lot. Just as they opened their trunk, a young man rushed up to their car. It took a moment or two for the couple to fully grasp the situation. Finally the woman spoke up. “Thank G-d you’re just some skeevy insurance agent. We thought you had a gun.”
This could be our future if the Ohio budget includes this Zombie legislation. Ohio Representative Bill Dean (R-71) was the bill’s sponsor. I plan to provide a copy of his testimony to every client who complains to me about insurance telephone solicitors bothering them at their homes or at dinner. Some of you might think that I am exaggerating the risk. Is the State of Ohio encouraging insurance agents to accost us? This is from Representative Dean’s Sponsor’s testimony last year:
“The current rule, Ohio Administrative Code 3901-8-09, prohibits virtually all agent-generated communications with potential clients unless it’s through direct mail or if the potential supplemental insurance client is already a business client. Here are a few examples of how restrictive the current prohibitions are:
- An agent calling fellow members of a 65+ group at his or her church about purchasing supplemental insurance;
- An agent sending a Facebook message about interest in purchasing insurance to someone they graduated from high school with 50 years ago;
- An agent approaching a group of seniors enjoying their coffee at McDonald’s and asking them if they’re interested in chatting about supplemental insurance.
Unless the agent has an existing business relationship with these potential customers, all of these interactions violate the current rule in place.”
Representative Dean wants to change that. He failed last year and now his Zombie may be a part of our next state budget.
As I noted last year, I’m 68. I get all of the solicitations from out-of-state call centers. Most of them are illegal but somehow beyond the reach of the Ohio Department of Insurance. It is annoying to have my cellphone ring at 7 AM on a Saturday morning. We (seniors) may not have to answer the phone, but we do have to see who is calling us. It could be important. It might be a sick friend or family member. We need less people hounding us, not more. We don’t need someone knocking on our door, approaching us in a restaurant, or tracking us down in a parking lot. Representative Dean thinks that Ohio’s seniors are being deprived of important purchasing opportunities. He is wrong. Here is his email – www.ohiohouse.gov/bill-dean. Drop him a line, unsolicited, and let him know what you think of his annoying law that won’t die, his Zombie.
Picture – It’s A Trap – David L Cunix and A.F.