The .INSURANCE new gTLD

fTLD Registry Services, LLC (FRS) is submitting this application on behalf of the global insurance community to ensure that the .insurance gTLD will serve as a trusted, hierarchical, and intuitive namespace for this community and the consumers it serves. All registrants within this gTLD will be vetted prior to registration to ensure their identity and their commitment to industry best standards developed by FRS before they are able to register in the .insurance gTLD. In addition, the registry will employ a network of active and passive safeguards in the operation of the registry to make certain these registrants continue to abide by the terms and conditions set forth in the registration agreement. The .insurance gTLD will also provide the industry with an innovative space to explore cutting edge business opportunities and mechanisms to better serve consumers using the Internet. Over time, one of the goals of this gTLD is to become the consumer’s choice for information about the insurance industry.

As awareness and use of the .insurance gTLD increases over time, Internet users will come to learn, understand and trust that websites ending in .insurance are operated by legitimate members of the insurance community. FRS’ implementation of stringent registration restrictions, enhanced security standards created by the financial services industry, content/use requirements and rigid enforcement will contribute to the security, stability, and resiliency of the .insurance gTLD, ultimately resulting in increased consumer trust and confidence in the gTLD.

The Internet represents a critical component of the trade and commerce engine and the .insurance gTLD is expected to address some of the online security challenges faced by the insurance industry. Regrettably, the industry’s reputation has been marred by criminal and fraudulent activities that undermine consumer trust and enforcement agency confidence. Internet users, many of whom are consumers, are increasingly challenged by opportunists and charlatans who pretend to be legitimate online businesses. This is a particular concern of the insurance industry because their consumers are asked to entrust sensitive financial information to external third parties. Rogue online operators engage in cybersquatting and "phishing" attacks that often involve false websites designed to mimic legitimate businesses, including insurance companies and/or agents.

Due to the strict vetting process that will occur before an .insurance domain is awarded, the number of phishing attacks will be greatly reduced in the .insurance gTLD. FRS will work with the insurance community to create a strategy that significantly reduces the risk of insurance-related phishing and other malicious activities that are perpetrated on the Internet.

Registrations within the community may initially be made by the following businesses, individuals and organizations:
  1. Insurance companies regulated by a government authority (e.g., licensed, approved, certified);
  2. Licensed insurance agents/agencies, brokers/brokerages or other equivalents (e.g., intermediaries, representatives) regulated by a government authority;
  3. Associations whose members are primarily comprised of entities or individuals identified above in 1 or 2;
  4. Groups of associations whose members are primarily comprised of associations identified above in 3; 
  5. Service providers that are principally owned by or predominantly supporting regulated entities identified above in 1 or 2 (if approved by the FRS Board); and
  6. Government regulators of insurance companies, agents/agencies, brokers/brokerages or other equivalents (e.g., intermediaries, representatives) or organizations whose members are primarily comprised of such government regulators (if approved by the FRS Board).

Why FRS?

In 2008, the American Bankers Association (ABA) and The Financial Services Roundtable’s (Roundtable) executives and members allocated resources to work in conjunction with member committees to examine the potential impact the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) new gTLD program could have on the financial services industry and to make recommendations regarding next steps. Marked concern arose regarding the expansion program, especially in light of the resources and expenditures currently dedicated to stem existing online abuses.

During the last four years, the ABA and the Roundtable united to play an active role in ICANN’s development of its new gTLD program. Both organizations engaged with ICANN to voice community concerns about the program, and were successful in raising awareness about the need to protect brands and intellectual property. In addition, the ABA and Roundtable were successful with their request to ICANN for a modification to the Security Policy question in the Applicant Guidebook and it now includes that gTLDs with unique trust implications, such as those that are financial services-oriented, are expected to deploy appropriate levels of security. However, absent assurances that .insurance, .bank and other financial gTLDs would be protected, the Executive Committee and Board of each respective organization voted and authorized staff to take all actions necessary to secure financial gTLDs, specifically, .insurance and .bank.

At the behest and approval of both the ABA and the Roundtable members and Boards, FRS was formed in 2011 for the explicit purpose of applying for and operating financial services-related gTLDs. In addition, FRS seeks to protect the brand space, improve the protection available for a more secure Internet ecosystem, collaborate on delivering more innovative and secure products and services, and zealously advocate for the interests of the insurance community with ICANN.

The Operating Managers of FRS:

Founded in 1875, the American Bankers Association represents banks of all sizes and charters and is the voice for the U.S. banking industry’s $13 trillion and 2 million employees. ABA marshals the talent, energy and perspectives of its members to bring about positive change for the banking industry. In conjunction with the financial services community, the ABA has developed and continues to own a number of innovative systems that support the financial services industry. The ABA Routing Number (RTN) system was developed in 1910 and serves to identify the specific financial institution responsible for the payment of a negotiable instrument. In 1964, the ABA organized the Committee on Uniform Security Identification Procedures (CUSIP), for the purpose of developing an identifier for financial instruments. ABA is also an active member of the International Banking Federation, formed in March 2004 to represent the combined views of a group of national banking associations. Collectively, the countries represented by the Federation reach more than 18,000 banks with 275,000 branches.

The American Bankers Insurance Association (ABIA), a subsidiary of the ABA, is the leading bank-insurance industry trade association in the U.S. ABIA members include banking institutions of all asset sizes, including insurance companies, service providers, consultants, and associations.

The first of the Roundtable's predecessor organizations, the Association of Reserve City Bankers, was formed in 1912. The Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 led to the 1958 formation of another independent organization, the Association of Registered Bank Holding Companies. The two organizations merged in July 1993, and became The Bankers Roundtable in October 1993. In early 2000, the first members from the securities, investment, and insurance sectors joined their banking brethren as founding members of The Financial Services Roundtable. Today, the Roundtable represents 100 of the largest integrated financial services companies providing insurance, banking, and investment products and services to the American consumer.

FRS has actively engaged several insurance-related trade associations to inform them of FRS’ activities and what it could mean for their members. The current list of community members that have endorsed FRS’ application for .insurance is attached in response to question 20(f) and is also available online at www.ftld.com/endorsers.html.
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Jovenet Consulting,
Aug 4, 2016, 7:03 AM