Texans are being told to limit non-essential activities in order to stop the spread of coronavirus. This means that people are only supposed to go out for essential work and activities, and they may face additional requirements regarding social distancing and the use of masks. Here’s what insurance agents in the state need to know.
Governor Abbott’s Executive Order
On March 31, Governor Abbott issued an executive order stating that “every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.” The order is valid from April 2 to April 30.
Under this order, all services should be provided remotely from home unless they are essential services that cannot be provided remotely.
Additional Local Orders
In addition to the statewide order issued by Governor Abbott, many local governments in Texas have issued their own orders.
For example, Travis County has issued a stay-at-home order that is currently effective through May 8. The county has also ordered people over the age of 10 to wear face coverings, or masks, when out in public.
According to Dallas News, Dallas County’s stay-at-home order will be in place until April 30, and according to KWTX, Coryell County and the City of Gatesville have also issued stay-at-home orders. Other counties may have additional orders as well.
Defining Essential Services
Although non-essential work activity may be forced to stop under city, county and state stay-at-home orders, essential work must go on. This may include the work done by insurance agents.
The Texas executive order defines essential services as those listed in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0, as well as religious services. The Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce lists insurance services, along with certain other financial services, as essential. In its FAQ on the work-for-home order, the City of Dallas also lists insurance companies as essential.
For questions about whether a service is classified as essential, visit http://tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices/.
Licensing Requirements and Fees
Meeting licensing requirements may be difficult during this time. The good news is that this fact has been recognized and addressed.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, certain licensing requirements and fees have been suspended for Texas-licensed insurance agents. The renewal period for licenses that expired on or before February 29, 2020 will be extended to May 31, 2020, and temporary licenses will remain active until further notice. Certain training and fingerprint requirements are also being waived. See the Texas Department of Insurance website for details and updates.
Staying Safe and Compliant
Insurance agents may be relieved to know that their services can be considered essential and that certain licensing requirements have been temporarily eased. However, insurance agents still need to take steps to protect themselves and their clients.
- Provide services remotely using digital tools. Even essential services should be provided remotely when possible. Check out these tips on serving Medicare clients remotely.
- Check your city and county for any requirements that go beyond statewide orders, such as requirements to wear masks.
- Watch for updates and extensions of stay-at-home orders.
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