The commissioner shall construe this section in a manner which does not unduly restrict, inhibit or retard the promotion, sale and expansion of life insurance policies or annuity contracts. The commissioner shall consider differences in the purposes served by various advertisements and in the insurance product being advertised when interpreting this section. When applying this section to a specific advertisement, the commissioner shall consider the detail, character, purpose, use and entire content of the advertisement.
The extent to which a person subject to this section shall disclose policy provisions in an advertisement will depend on the content, detail, character, purpose and use of the advertisement and the nature of any qualifications involved. The principal criterion is whether the advertisement has the capacity or tendency to mislead or deceive if such a provision is not disclosed.
The commissioner shall determine whether an advertisement has the capacity or tendency to mislead or deceive from the overall impression that the advertisement may be reasonably expected to create upon a person of average education or intelligence within the segment of the public to which it is directed.
(5) Advertisements, representations, and solicitations in general. Ins 2.16(5)(a)(a)
Advertisements, representations, and solicitations shall be truthful and not misleading in fact or in implication and shall accurately describe the policy, the insurance business, any insurer, or any intermediary to which they apply. No advertisement may contain words or phrases the meaning of which is clear only by implication or by familiarity with insurance terminology.
Oral representations and solicitations shall conform to the requirements of this section.
(6) Suitability of policies.
No insurer or intermediary may recommend to a prospective buyer the purchase or replacement of any individual life insurance policy or annuity contract without reasonable grounds to believe that the recommendation is not unsuitable to the applicant. The insurer or intermediary shall make all necessary inquiries under the circumstances to determine that the purchase of the insurance is not unsuitable for the prospective buyer. This subsection does not apply to an individual policy issued on a group basis.
(7) Deceptive words, phrases or illustrations. Ins 2.16(7)(a)(a)
No person subject to this section may use an advertisement that exaggerates a benefit or minimizes cost by overstatement, understatement or incompleteness. No advertisement may omit information or contain words, phrases, statements, references or illustrations if the omission or use has the capacity, tendency, or effect of misleading or deceiving purchasers or prospective purchasers as to the nature or extent of any policy benefit payable, loss covered, premium payable or state or federal tax consequences. An advertisement referring to any policy benefit payable, loss covered, premium payable, or state or federal tax consequences shall be sufficiently complete and clear as to avoid deception or the capacity or tendency to mislead or deceive.
No advertisement may state or imply that life insurance arrangements are the same as savings accounts or deposits in banking or savings institutions. No person subject to this section may use policies which resemble savings bank passbooks. If savings accounts or deposits in banking and savings institutions are utilized in connection with life insurance arrangements, this paragraph does not prohibit the use of an accurate description of the life insurance arrangement.
Ins 2.16 Note
Annuity contracts are subject to the same limitations under s. Ins 2.15 (9) (h)
No advertisement may contain the terms “investment," “investment plan," “founder's plan," “charter plan," “deposit," “expansion plan," “profit," “profits," “profit sharing," “interest plan," “savings," “savings plan," or other similar terms in connection with a policy in a context or under circumstances or conditions as to have the capacity or tendency to mislead a purchaser or prospective purchaser of the policy to believe that he or she will receive, or that it is possible that he or she will receive, something other than a policy or some benefit not available to other persons of the same class and equal expectation of life.
An advertisement may refer to immediate coverage or guaranteed issuance of a policy only if suitable administrative procedures exist so that the policy is issued within a reasonable time after the application is received.
No advertisement may refer to a policy or coverage as“special" unless a person subject to this section can show that a reasonable basis exists for the use of this term.
Each advertisement shall clearly identify the insurer. If an application is a part of the advertisement, the application shall show the name of the insurer.
No advertisement may contain a trade name, an insurance group designation, the name of the parent company of the insurer, the name of a government agency or program, the name of a department or division of an insurer, the name of an agency, the name of any other organization, a service mark, a slogan, a symbol or any other device which has the capacity or tendency to mislead or deceive as to the identity of the insurer or create the impression that an entity other than the insurer has any responsibility for the financial obligation under any policy.
No advertisement may contain any combination of words, symbols or materials which, by its content, phraseology, shape, color, nature or other characteristics, is so similar to combinations of words, symbols or materials used by federal, state or local government agencies that it tends to confuse or mislead prospective buyers into believing that the solicitation is in some manner connected with such a government agency.
No advertisement may refer to an affiliate of the insurer without disclosing that the 2 organizations are separate legal entities.
No advertisement may indicate an address for an insurer in any manner that may mislead or deceive as to the insurer's identity or licensing status. An advertisement which indicates an address for an insurer other than that of its home office shall clearly identify the address other than that of its home office and clearly disclose the actual city and state of domicile of the insurer.
(9) Testimonials, endorsements, appraisals, analysis or commendations by third parties. Ins 2.16(9)(a)
No advertisement may contain a testimonial, endorsement or other commendatory statement concerning the insurer, its policies or activities by any person who receives any pay or remuneration, directly or indirectly, from the insurer in connection with the testimonial, endorsement or statement unless the advertisement, testimonial or endorsement includes a full and prominent disclosure therein of the relationship, direct or indirect, including but not limited to the existence of any financial interest, remuneration, or both, between the insurer and the person making the testimonial, endorsement or statement. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to any person holding a Wisconsin intermediary's license nor to any radio or television announcer or other person employed or compensated on a salaried or union wage scale basis.
A testimonial, endorsement, appraisal, or analysis used in an advertisement shall be genuine, represent the current opinion of the author, apply to the policy advertised and be accurately reproduced.
No person subject to this section may use a testimonial, endorsement, appraisal or analysis:
If the insurer has information indicating a substantial change of view on the part of the author;
If a reasonable person would conclude that the views expressed do not correctly reflect the current opinion of the author;
For more than 2 years after the date on which it was originally given or 2 years after the date of a prior confirmation without obtaining a confirmation that the statement represents the author's current opinion;
Which does not accurately reflect the present practices of the insurer;
To advertise a policy other than the policy for which the author gave the statement, unless the statement clearly has some reasonable application to the second policy;
Which effects a change or omission which alters or distorts its meaning or intent as originally written; or
Which does not disclose the true nature of the insurance coverage under which the benefits were paid if it contains a description of benefit payments.
No advertisement may state or imply, unless true, that an individual, group of individuals, society, association or other organization approves or endorses an insurer or a policy. An advertisement shall disclose any affiliated relationship between the society, association or other organization and the insurer. If the insurer or the person or persons who own or control the insurer has formed or owns or controls the society, association or other organization, the advertisement shall clearly disclose this fact.
If a testimonial refers to benefits received under a policy, the insurer shall retain a summary of the pertinent claim information including claim number and date of loss with the advertisement in the advertising file required by sub. (30)
No advertisement may state or imply that a government publication commends or recommends the insurer or its policy.
(10) Jurisdictional licensing; approval by governmental agency. Ins 2.16(10)(a)(a)
No advertisement which may be seen or heard beyond the limits of the jurisdiction in which the insurer is licensed may state or imply licensing beyond those limits.
In any advertisement any reference to licensing shall contain an appropriate disclaimer that the viewer, listener, or reader should not construe the reference as an endorsement or implied endorsement of the insurer or its products by any agency of this state or the commissioner of insurance.
No advertisement may state or imply that the insurer, its financial condition or status, the payment of its claims, its policy forms or the merits or desirability of its policy forms or kinds or plans of insurance are approved, endorsed or accredited by any agency of this state or the federal government.
No advertisement may contain a reproduction of a portion of a state insurance department report of examination.
(11) Introductory, initial or special offers and limited enrollment periods. Ins 2.16(11)(a)
No advertisement may state or imply, unless true, that a policy or combination of policies is an introductory, initial or special offer and that the applicant will receive advantages not available at a later date by accepting the offer, that only a limited number of policies will be sold, that a time is fixed for the discontinuance of the sale of the policy advertised because of special advantages available in the policy, or that an individual will receive special advantages by enrolling within an open enrollment period or by a deadline date.
No advertisement may state or imply that enrollment under a policy is limited to a specific period unless the advertisement discloses the period of time permitted to enroll. This period of time may not be less than 10 days and not more than 40 days from the date of the advertisement.
If the insurer making an introductory, initial or special offer has previously offered the same or similar policy on the same basis or intends to repeat the current offer for the same or similar policy, the advertisement shall disclose this fact.
No insurer may establish for residents of this state a limited enrollment period within which a person may purchase an individual policy less than 6 months after the close of an earlier limited enrollment period for the same or similar policy. The restriction shall apply to all advertisements in newspapers, magazines and other periodicals circulated in this state, all mail advertisements sent to residents of this state and all radio and TV advertisements broadcast in this state. This restriction does not apply to the solicitation of enrollments under individual policies issued on a group basis.
Where an insurer is an affiliate of a group of insurers under common management and control, the word “insurer" for the purposes of this subsection means the insurance group. The requirements and restrictions applicable to an insurer shall apply to the insurance group.
(12) Mail order refusal form.
No person subject to this section may use a mail order advertisement which requires the recipient, in order to refuse a policy, to sign a refusal form and return it to a specified person or insurer.
(13) Group, quasi-group or special class implications.
No advertisement may state or imply, unless true, that prospective policyholders or members of a particular class of individuals become group or quasi-group members or are uniquely eligible for a special policy or coverage and will be subject to special rates or underwriting privileges or that a particular coverage or policy is exclusively for preferred risks, a particular segment of people, or a particular age group or groups.
An offer in an advertisement of free inspection of a policy or an offer of a premium refund shall not be a cure for misleading or deceptive statements contained in such advertisement.
An advertisement which refers to the provision in the policy advertised regarding the right to return the policy shall disclose the time limitation applicable to this right.
(15) Identification of plan or number of policies. Ins 2.16(15)(a)(a)
When an advertisement refers to a choice regarding benefit amounts, it shall disclose that the benefit amounts provided will depend upon the plan selected and that the premium will vary with the amount of the benefits.
When an advertisement refers to various benefits, all of which can be obtained only by purchasing 2 or more policies, it shall disclose that the benefits are provided only through a combination of such policies.
An advertisement which sets out the dollar amounts of claims paid, the number of persons insured or other statistical information shall identify the source of the statistical information. No person subject to this section may use an advertisement unless it accurately reflects all of the relevant facts. No advertisement may contain irrelevant statistical data.
No advertisement may imply that the statistical information given is derived from the insurer's experience under the policy advertised unless true. The advertisement shall specifically so state if the information applies to other policies or plans.
An advertisement which sets out the dollar amounts of claims paid shall also indicate the period during which such claims have been paid.
Contain untrue statements with respect to the time within which claims are paid;
State or imply that claim settlements will be liberal or generous or use words of similar import;
State or imply that claim settlements will be beyond the actual terms of the policy; or
Contain a description of a claim which involves unique or highly unusual circumstances.
(18) Statements about an insurer.
No advertisement may contain untrue statements or statements that by implication mislead with respect to the insurer's assets, corporate structure, financial standing, age, experience or relative position in the insurance business.
(19) Disparaging comparisons and statements.
No advertisement may directly or indirectly contain unfair or incomplete comparisons of policies or benefits or falsely or unfairly disparage, discredit or criticize competitors, their policies, services or business methods or competing marketing methods.
An advertisement for a policy with nonlevel premiums shall contain a prominent description of the premium changes.
No person subject to this section may describe in an advertisement a life insurance policy under which the insurer reserves the right to change the amount of the premium during the policy term unless this feature is prominently described in the advertisement.
Except as otherwise allowed under this paragraph, no advertisement may contain a statement or representation that an insured may withdraw under the terms of the policy any premiums paid for a life insurance policy. The advertisement may refer to amounts paid into an advance premium fund, which are intended to pay premiums at a future time, to the effect that they may be withdrawn under the conditions of the prepayment agreement. The advertisement may also refer to withdrawal rights under any unconditional premium refund offer.
No advertisement may state or imply that a pure endowment benefit is a “profit" or “return" on the premium paid rather than a policy benefit for which a specified premium is paid.
No advertisement may contain a description of or otherwise refer to nonguaranteed policy elements in a manner which is misleading or has the capacity or tendency to mislead.
No advertisement may state or imply that the payment or amount of nonguaranteed policy elements is guaranteed. If an insurance policy's or annuity contract's nonguaranteed policy elements are illustrated, they may not be more favorable to the policyholder than those based on the current interest rates, dividend scales, mortality tables, and other variable components currently used by the insurer for that insurance policy or annuity contract. The illustration shall contain a statement to the effect that the viewer, listener, or reader should not construe the nonguaranteed policy elements as guarantees or estimates of amounts to be paid in the future.
No advertisement may state or imply that illustrated nonguaranteed policy elements will be or can be sufficient at any future time to assure, without the further payment of premiums, the receipt of benefits, such as a paid-up policy, unless the advertisement clearly and precisely explains what benefits or coverage would be provided at the future time and under what conditions this would occur.
No advertisement may refer to dividends as “tax free"or contain words of similar import, unless the tax treatment of dividends is accurately explained and the nature of the dividend as a return of premium is indicated clearly.
A person subject to this section may address an advertisement for policies sold to students to the parents of students. No address on the advertisement may include any combination of words which imply that the correspondence is from a school, college, university or other education or training institution nor may it imply that the institution has endorsed the material or supplied the insurer with information about the student unless true.
All advertisements, including but not limited to information flyers used in the solicitation of insurance, shall contain clear identification that the advertisement comes from an insurer or intermediary, if this is the case, and these entities shall be clearly identified as insurers or intermediaries.
No return address on the advertisement may state or imply that the soliciting insurer or insurance intermediary is affiliated with a university, college, school, or other educational or training institution, unless true.
(23) Individual deferred annuity products or deposit funds.
For individual deferred annuity products or deposit funds, the following shall apply:
Any illustrations or statements containing or based upon interest rates higher than the guaranteed accumulation interest rates for the annuity product or deposit fund shall likewise set forth with equal prominence comparable illustrations or statements containing or based upon the guaranteed accumulation interest rates. No higher interest rate may be greater than those currently being credited by the insurer unless the higher rate has been publicly declared by the insurer with an effective date for new issues not more than 2 months subsequent to the date of declaration.
If an advertisement states the net premium accumulation interest rate, whether guaranteed or not, it shall also disclose in close proximity thereto and with equal prominence, the actual relationship between the gross and net premiums.
If any policy does not provide a cash surrender benefit prior to commencement of payment of any annuity benefits, any illustrations or statements concerning the policy shall prominently state that cash surrender benefits are not provided.
(24) Advertisements showing a specific rate of return on premiums or cash values.
All life insurance or annuity solicitations, representations, and advertisements used in Wisconsin which show a specific rate of return on premiums or cash values shall also show, in close proximity thereto and with equal prominence, the following:
A general statement describing the existence of first-year and annual expense charges, mortality charges and surrender charges which will be deducted from the premium before the interest rate is applied.
The guaranteed rate of interest paid on the cash value.