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Breaking Down the FCC’s TCPA Ruling

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DisclaimerThe following content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Please consult your legal counsel for advice regarding your specific situation and compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

 

During a time when consumer privacy concerns are at an all-time high, regulatory organizations such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are vital in determining how telemarketing will evolve into the future. In recent months, the FCC has enacted a new ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which will bring about significant changes, specifically regarding how consumers are contacted. 

 

Ultimately the goal of the ruling aims to grant consumers more choice over who can reach them via automated calls or messages. Understanding the impact of the FCC’s one-to-one contact order, its effect on telemarketing tactics, and the steps insurance agents must take to stay compliant are all keys to success if you’re a part of the industry. 

A Brief Overview of the FCC’s TCPA Ruling tcpa overview

The TCPA was passed in 1991 to help address consumer concerns relating to unwanted telemarketing calls, voice messages, SMS messages and faxes. In a nutshell, the act imposes limitations on the use of certain communication methods. In an effort to preserve consumer privacy. The new TCPA ruling is also known as the “one-to-one” permission to contact ruling. 

 

According to the rule, telemarketers must get each customer’s express, unique authorization for each vendor. Or in other words, a consumer consenting to one company contacting them does not extend to a variety of other affiliates or organizations. This is a huge change for both telemarketers and related businesses, as well as for consumers. 

Understanding the New Requirement 

In order to really understand the new requirement, it’s first important to grasp what Explicit individual consent really means. For telemarketing it simply means that telemarketers have to obtain clear and specific written consent from every consumer, for each individual seller. 

 

More specifically, the consent form must explicitly state that the consumer at hand agrees to be contacted by that specific seller, using automated systems or prerecorded messages. The most important takeaways are that consent must be:

 

 

  • Explicit: Consent must be straightforward, leaving no room for doubt. It has to explicitly say that the buyer agrees to receive communications from a specific vendor, using specified channels. 
  • Written: Consent must be recorded in writing. This includes electronic consent forms online. 

Impact on Telemarketing Practices

Operational Changes

 

 

For telemarketers, the new ruling will make a number of operational changes necessary to make:

 

  • Obtaining Specific Seller Consent: The consent of every individual seller must be obtained. So going forward, a blanket consent statement that covers multiple sellers is not acceptable. In order to ensure consent is granted before making automated calls, or sending pre-recorded messages, it might be necessary to redesign your consent forms. When doing so, be sure that the form specifies the exact nature of the consent, and the specific communication channels. 
  • Record Keeping: It’s vital for telemarketers to keep organized records of consent. This ensures that you can prove compliance in the case of a dispute or audit. 
  • Sufficient Training: Staff should be properly trained on the new requirements, including how to handle interactions with consumers to ensure that compliance is maintained. 

Consumer Trust

The upside to this change is that it has the potential to greatly increase consumer confidence in telemarketing communications. By making sure that consumers have given explicit permission to be contacted, the number of unwanted calls and messages will decrease. In turn, there will be fewer complaints, more positive experiences, and more sales made!

Challenges 

With that being said, the ruling will also cause telemarketers to face several challenges such as: 

 

 

  • Increased Administrative Work: Since explicit consent is necessary for each individual seller, the administrative workload will likely increase.
  • Technological Changes: In order to comply with the new consent standards, it may be necessary to upgrade or replace current systems and procedures.
  • Compliance Monitoring: Telemarketers need to keep an eye on compliance at all times to stay out of trouble legally and financially.

Impact on Insurance Agents

Compliance Requirements 

Just like telemarketers, insurance agents need to follow the new FCC ruling. Adhering by the updated rule ensures compliance and customer trust. The following are essential to adopt in your business practices, if you don’t do so already: 

 

  • Update Consent Forms: Make sure that individual consent is included in all consent forms, and updated to reflect the new language. The consent to be contacted by the particular insurance agent or company must be explicitly stated on the paperwork.
  • Record-keeping: Keep thorough records of every consent you get, including the time, date, and method of consent. To prove compliance, this documentation is essential.
  • Continual Evaluations/Audits: Maintain continuous adherence to the FCC judgment by conducting routine audits of consent documents and telemarketing procedures.

Operational Changes

It’s also necessary for insurance agents to make the following operational changes in order to comply with the new law:

 

  • Process Revisions: Make sure that the procedures for obtaining and recording consent are up to date and comply with the new regulations.
  • Improve Training: Train employees on the significance of getting explicit consent and the appropriate ways of doing so.
  • Employ Technology Solutions: To minimize the administrative load, employ technology solutions to speed up the consent gathering and documentation process.

Risk Management 

As an insurance agent, if you don’t abide by the FCC’s ruling, you run the risk of the following: 

 

  • Penalties and Fines: Serious fines and penalties may result from TCPA violations.
  • Legal Concerns: Consumers or government agencies may file lawsuits against noncompliance.
  • Reputation Damage: Ignoring the decision may cause you or your company’s reputation to suffer, which could result in a decline in customer confidence and the business’s overall prosperity.

The Best Practices for Getting Consent:

Clear Communication

Obtaining consent is much easier when clear communication methods are being practices this includes: 

 

  • Using Plain Language: Make sure that consent documents are easy to read and understand for customers by using straightforward and easy to understand language.
  • Transparency: Be open and honest about the consumer’s rights to withdraw consent and how their information will be utilized. Using sneaky or misleading language will only cause greater problems down the road. 
  • Detailed Explanations: Give the customer a thorough explanation of the communication channels that will be used, as well as the particular seller that will be getting in touch with them. There should be no surprises. 

Ongoing Compliance 

To guarantee continued compliance, take the following into account: 

 

  1. Frequent Training: Hold staff training sessions on a frequent basis to keep everyone updated on the most recent compliance standards and best practices.
  2. Conduct Periodic Audits: To find and address any compliance issues, conduct periodic audits of consent records and telemarketing practices.
  3. Customer Feedback: To find areas for improvement and guarantee a good experience. Encourage customers to give you feedback regarding the consent procedure.

Benefits of Compliance 

Establishes and Builds Trust 

When you adhere to the new explicit written consent requirements the consumer’s trust will generally increase. By being transparent with consumers, and honoring their preferences, insurance agents and telemarketers will build strong rapport.

Improves Relationships with Clients

Better relationships with customers can result from consent being communicated in an open and transparent manner. Customers are more likely to have positive interactions with telemarketers and agents that respect their privacy and are honest about the usage of their data.

Enhances Reputation

Telemarketers and insurance agents can improve their reputation by adhering to the FCC order. Abiding by laws and honoring customer preferences provides long-term advantages, such as boosted customer loyalty and referrals

The Overall Takeaway 

The FCC’s new TCPA ruling is bringing significant changes to the world of telecommunications. All in all, the change makes it necessary to gain express written consent from each consumer. For consumers, this means more discretion over who contacts them and how they are being contacted. 

 

For telemarketers and insurance agents alike, consent must be clearly obtained in writing for each individual seller. There will be no more single-blanket consent statements that cover multiple sellers at one time. 

 

In order to comply with the new standards, it’s important to continuously improve record-keeping methods and update consent forms. As well as and practice clear communication with customers. While this may cause more administrative work on the backend, client relationships and trust will improve. So, while the TCPA change is a legal requirement, it also presents a change to build a strong reputation and propel the success of your business. 

 

It’s important to be confident in your understanding of this new ruling, and Benepath is always here to help. As an established business that’s operated in the lead generation industry for over 20 years, TCPA compliance is our strong suit! We are available around the clock to assist you in your insurance efforts and make sure your procedures are up to date. To find out more about how we can help you succeed, simply fill out a form, or give us a call at 888-684-3121.

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