If you work in the surplus lines (or non-admitted) insurance market, you’ve probably seen OPTins mentioned. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides this Web-based application at no cost to users. It allows licensees to make surplus lines tax payments to regulators in various states, quickly and securely. But OPTins is for more than just surplus lines! Some states also use it for premium tax and state-specific tax payments.
OPTins is a terrific tool – SO much easier and faster than paper filings – but here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure the best experience.
You need to have an OPTins account to use the system.
It isn’t difficult to register for an OPTins account, but you will need to provide your banking information and contact information for EACH person who will use the account. If you use OPTins to file surplus lines tax filings, you also need to provide the names, NPN and license numbers for each entity or individual producer licensed to transact business in each state.
One important thing to remember: it can take up to two weeks for OPTins to process new account applications. If you need to create a new account or add a new state to an existing account, do so as soon as possible. In some states, using OPTins to make tax payments is mandatory, and the state won’t usually accept, “I was waiting on my OPTins credentials to be issued,” as an excuse for a late filing!
You shouldn’t share OPTins credentials.
I already mentioned that the registration application requires you to list each person who will use the account. Each person receives his or her unique user name and password. Team members shouldn’t share credentials or use the credentials of a former employee. The security of the OPTins system begins with controlling access to the system. Additionally, if there is an issue with a filing, OPTins support personnel and/or state regulators need to know who to contact.
OPTins makes the process faster, but that includes making mistakes.
People think computers will keep them from making mistakes. They’re wrong. With computers, you make mistakes faster.Adam Osborne
If your account connects to a debit card, state regulators receive notification of the tax filing and payment as soon as you hit that submit button. (Credit card users’ payments forward to the state as soon as the transaction clears the bank.) You can amend filings and make additional tax payments through OPTins, but if a mistake – or a change to policy terms, for that matter – involves getting a refund, it’s a little more complicated. Then, you need to contact the state regulator’s office directly. Depending on the state, there may be a wait to receive your money back.
It’s very easy to get into a groove when processing filings electronically, so don’t forget to check those filings carefully before you hit submit! Still, as long as you’re careful, OPTins is a great time-saver.