This is the newest page on The Xenophile Historian, documenting how I got a Pre-Paid Legal license for my former home state.
How To Conquer Florida
I am writing this piece because I just received my license to sell Pre-Paid Legal Services in the state of Florida. Next to finding people who are willing to become Associates, the Florida license has probably been my biggest challenge in the business, so for those following the same path, here is how I did it.
Fortunately, in three-fourths of the area where Pre-Paid Legal is active, you do not need a license to sell it. If you are in that zone, more power to you! However, sixteen states and one province do require a license. They are:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
In May 2010 I got my PPL license for Illinois, and in August I got it for Texas. Both of those states were easy; all they wanted was a check/money order and a one-page form that basically said I am not a crook. A Florida license, however, requires more money and the process is longer and a bit confusing. It is definitely worth the effort, inasmuch as Florida has the fourth largest population of any state, and more than its share of senior citizens. Also, a Florida license is good for two years; you don’t have to renew it every year like the cheaper ones. Finally, I got it for personal reasons; I lived in Florida from 1966 to 2006, so while I have been in Kentucky for four years, I still know more people in Florida. Dates will be included in the following account, so you can see how long it took me, allowing you to plan ahead, if necessary.
First, you need to know where to go online. I started looking on October 17, and it took me a few days to find out, because the Pre-Paid Legal office didn’t know for sure. The place to apply is on the website for the Florida Department of Financial Services, at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/agents/. On the left is a button that says “My Profile, Log In.” Click on it and a popup window will appear. You will use the popup to log in on each visit, and find out the status of your application. By the way, the website only works properly with Internet Explorer, so if you prefer to use a different browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc.), forget about that here.
The first time you come here, you will have to create an account. For identification they will ask for your Social Security number and date of birth; no user name or password is needed. If you need any help, the phone number for the office is 850-413-3137. Maybe I had a headstart on this, because I already had an account from the days when I was involved with Primerica (2003-2004). When I first logged in for the Pre-Paid Legal license, there was a note waiting which stated that my Primerica license expired in June 2009! Well, at least I didn’t have to take exams for this license, the way I did for Primerica.
The license you are applying for is #0956, the Nonresident Legal Expense license. I completed the form for the license on October 25, and paid a fee of $57.95.
Once Tallahassee receives payment for the application, they will send you two cards for your fingerprints. However, the website is obviously meant for Florida residents only. On it they list at least one place in each of Florida’s 67 counties where you can get your fingerprints done, but none for out of state. That knocked me for a loop; I thought I would have to drive to Florida just for the fingerprinting process! Fortunately that wasn’t the case, as I learned when I made a call to the phone number listed above and found out the truth. The good news is that fingerprints taken at any out-of-state police station are acceptable, and unlike the Florida offices, you don’t have to schedule an appointment before going to one. I got mine done at the downtown Lexington police station on November 12, and they charged me $10 for each card. Total = $20.00.
Next, you have to mail the fingerprint cards back to Tallahassee, and pay an additional fingerprinting fee to the State of Florida. That fee worked out to $58.25, and is paid by either going online to http://www.fldfsprints.com or by calling 888-717-5699. The tricky part is that the fees are collected by a different agency than the Florida Department of Financial Services, so they won’t automatically know if you have paid. A classic example of one hand not knowing what the other hand is doing. To notify them, save your confirmation number from the fingerprint payment, and write a letter to this address:
Florida Department of Financial Services
Bureau of Licensing Larson Building, Room 419
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0319
Be sure to include the confirmation number in the letter. I mailed my letter on November 14.
Once they get the letter, they promise to review your application within seven business days. In my case, they reviewed it on November 23 or 24. Unfortunately, there was a problem with my application, and they called to let me know. I was out of town for Thanksgiving week, so I didn’t find out about the call until after I got back, and then it took until December 1 to reach the gentleman who called me.
The problem was that the fingerprint cards were illegible, so they sent my name and Social Security number to the FBI for a background check. If the FBI didn’t have a criminal record on me, my license application would be approved. Though shocking, it was not a total surprise. The lady who took care of me in the Lexington police station complained about having to put my fingers on the scanner more than once, because according to her, I didn’t have any fingerprints. Still, she took my money and gave me the cards, so I figured they were all right. I have been fingerprinted on two other occasions since moving to Kentucky, once for my security clearance in 2006, and once at the Department of Homeland Security’s request in 2009. In both of those cases they didn’t have a problem producing visible fingerprints on the cars, so now I’m wondering, have years of working around computer keyboards worn my fingertips completely smooth?
Anyway, I was informed that the FBI’s background check could take as long as thirty business days. Mercifully, it wasn’t that long; I was approved for the license on December 10. Allowing for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday as holidays, that works out to a ten-business-day turnaround.
Here’s what the license looks like. Unlike the other states, they don’t send you a nifty card to put in your wallet, or even a certificate. Instead, they give you two PDF files, one full-sized and one wallet-sized, and they expect you to print and laminate those. Alas, you can barely see the watermark!
I found out I was approved on a Friday evening, so the following Monday (December 13) I called Pre-Paid Legal to ask, “What do I do now?” They asked me to fax a copy of the license (their fax # is 580-436-7555), and because we were snowed in, I did that at the nearest Kinko’s the next day. The fax cost me $2.63. Then after I got home I called them back, paid a $60 fee which they also required, was given an appointment number, and told the license would go into effect in 24 to 48 hours.
Totals: For me the process took 60 days. It would have been quicker if I knew at the start exactly what to do, but no matter. The dollar amount was $57.95 + $20 + $58.25 + $2.63 + $60 = $198.83. Now that I am licensed in the state I know best, watch me tear this business up!