Commissioners Set To Discuss States’ Progress, Federal Options
When state insurance commissioners gather for their annual conference in San Antonio from Feb. 7-9, the issues of a federal charter option and what states are doing this year to demonstrate local regulatory effectiveness will be the focal points of discussion, says Mike Pickens, vice president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Pickens, who is also Arkansas commissioner, says the National Insurance Chartering and Supervision Act legislation introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will be discussed as part of the federal charter issue.
The bill establishes a new bureau in the Treasury Department to be known as the Office of the National Insurance Commissioner. It is patterned after the Office of Thrift Supervision, which charters and supervises federal thrifts, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which charters and supervises national banks. A national insurance commissioner would also be chosen to head the new agency.
Pickens says that, in general, he opposes federal chartering legislation. For one thing, the bill is written by the banking industry, he states.
He also noted in a recent speech the implication for agents. Practically speaking, Pickens said, the charter’s provisions would not be optional for agents since an agency would need to obtain a federal charter to sell policies offered by a national insurer.
Noting the progress state insurance regulation has made in the last year, he says, “It is a question of the necessity of the federal charter bill at this time.”