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What's in an Insurance Agency's Name?

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Jack A. Siebers
Foster Swift Insurance Law E-News
January 24, 2011

For thirty years, anyone forming a corporate insurance agency in Michigan had to include "agency" in its name if it wanted to also use "insurance" in its name.  That all came to an end on January 20 when Michigan's Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, better known as OFIR, issued Bulletin 2011-01-INS.

The requirement originated with an opinion issued by Michigan's Attorney General in 1980 advising the public would be misled to believe an agency was an insurance company if it used "insurance" in its name and did not include "agency."  However, on February 10, 2010, Michigan's Attorney General Cox reversed the long-standing opinion.  He opined that a corporate agency could use "insurance" alone "so long as the name, taken as a whole, does not imply that the agency is an insurance or surety company."

The Attorney General's reversal paved the way for OFIR to state that it no longer requires a corporate agency that wants to use "insurance" in its name to add "agency" as a disclaimer.  As an attorney, this is welcome news.  On many occasions while assisting clients who were forming insurance agencies, I found myself having to point to the ill-founded 1980 Attorney General's opinion in trying to explain the need for agency in their name.  Michigan agents may want to call their word smiths to design a new moniker for their business.