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CA Department of Insurance

Business Entity Application Procedures - Name Approval Criteria

Name Approval Criteria

A business entity wishing to transact business in California must submit an application and have their business name approved.  Section 1724.5 of the California Insurance Code requires individual and organization licensees to file in writing the true name of the individual or organization and all fictitious names under which business will be conducted in the State.  The California Insurance Commissioner may disapprove the use of any true or fictitious name of any licensee based on a variety of conditions. 

  • For example: A proposed name interferes with or is too similar to a name already approved.  For example, a proposed name would be considered too similar if the first two words of the name are already approved for use by another licensee.    
  • The name may mislead the public in any respect.  For example, a name cannot be the same as the name of a well known company or so similar as to imply affiliation with the well-known company.    
  • The name does not clearly indicate that the licensee is an insurance producer. For example, inserting the word "insurance" into the name followed by a descriptive word, such as "agency," "marketing," "sales," or "services" would clearly identify the licensee as an insurance producer. Go to Required Definitive Words page for more information.   
  • The name states, implies or infers that the applicant or licensee has expertise in the area of investment, tax shelter, financial or estate planning or computer programming; that the applicant or licensee is a regulated finance or mortgage company; or that the applicant or licensee is engaged in retail sales.   An exception to these rules may be made on a case by case basis and the applicant must meet specific exception criteria.   
  • The name includes an unacceptable word or phrase, such as "Advisor" or "State."    
  • Certain words or phrases are used improperly in a name, such as "Administrators," "California," or "County." 

Fictitious Name (DBA) Approval Criteria

When the true name of an organization does not meet statutory and regulatory approval criteria, an organization may operate under an approved fictitious name (DBA) provided that the applicant or licensee agrees to only use the approved fictitious name when transacting insurance business in California.  The organization must file a letter with the California Department of Insurance committing to the exclusive use of the fictitious name when soliciting, transacting, and negotiating insurance business in the State.  The letter must be on organizational letterhead and signed by an authorized representative of the organization.  The committed DBA must comply with all California licensing requirements. 

Once a committed DBA is approved, the true organizational name cannot be used to conduct insurance business in California.  All advertising, business cards, brochures, and telephone book yellow page advertisements must use only the approved committed DBA.

A business entity may request the use of a fictitious name.  All DBAs must be submitted for approval to ensure they meet all the requirements for use.  The DBA is recorded on the Business Entity Application for Insurance License (Form 441-11).

  • At the time of filing a business entity application, an applicant may receive approval to use its true name and one DBA.  Although only one DBA will be approved for use at the time of application, licensees may purchase or succeed to the business of other licensees (up to two DBA's) for their use (Section 1724.5[e] CIC).   
  • To acquire a DBA by either purchasing a business or succeeding to a business, the DBA must be currently approved by the Department and the owner of the DBA must submit to the Department documentation stating that they are surrendering and releasing the DBA to the acquiring business entity.
An individual may also use a fictitious name.  The fictitious name must comply with all California insurance statutes and regulations and be approved by the Department of Insurance.

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If you have any questions about this form or the license information you retrieved, please see the most commonly asked questions in our License Questions and Answers section. If you need further assistance, please call our Business Entity Licensing Inquiry line at (916) 492-3069. You may also send an e-mail to the Producer Licensing Bureau. Please be sure to include your name, telephone number, license number and e-mail address in all correspondence with the CDI.
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