State regulation of the sale of travel insurance could be moving in a new direction following an agreement among state insurance commissioners to work toward uniform guidelines for travel agents.

According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, whose members include some of the top brands of travel insurance providers, state governments now have a roadmap for developing a standard regime that would replace the existing patchwork of state laws and permit travel agents to distribute information about travel insurance and process applications, without a license.

The group said the National Association of Insurance Commissions recently agreed on a uniform licensing standard that would enable travel agents to engage in these activities as long as the insurance provider is licensed in that state.

"Once states have adopted the standards, travel agents offering and disseminating travel insurance can do so under the provider’s license and will not need to be licensed themselves," said Jim Grace, president of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association. "This move will help provide travel agencies with a value-added source of revenue."

Under existing licensing regimes, some states require travel agents to pass insurance tests and pay annual fees or meet other requirements in order to sell insurance.

ASTA’s senior staff vice president, Paul Ruden, said replacing current regulations with a regime that promotes "fairness and efficiency" has been a long-term goal of ASTA.

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