NU Online News Service, May 22, 4:58 p.m. – The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., might develop a new market conduct oversight process that could lead to annual market conduct statements.

Obstacles include insurers’ concerns about confidentiality and the amount of data that would be needed to actually get the job done.

But regulators and insurers are already discussing the issues involved, and regulators are considering setting up a pilot program to help determine how to share data more efficiently, according to Sue Stead, assistant director of the office of investigative and licensing services with the Ohio Insurance Department.

The pilot would be an alternative to a national data collection program that has already been discussed.

Regulators could achieve the goal of having a more permanent program in place by the end of the year, Stead says.

States that are expressing an interest in participating in the pilot program include Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Stead, who heads the regulatory team examining the issue of market conduct annual statements, says the team wants to keep state market conduct examinations from duplicating work done by other states.

One hot topic is protecting the confidentiality of any data housed in a central location, such as an NAIC depository.

Interviews suggest that although there may not be seamless confidentiality standards when states share information, insurers feel more comfortable with states sharing information as needed than with regulators permanently housing data from many states in one place.

One industry representative spoke of the possibility of class-action litigation. “We’re afraid of giving away the keys to the candy store,” the representative said.

Another hot topic is just how much data regulators need to collect.

Insurers are arguing that regulators have more than enough data to detect problem companies.

During a recent meeting, some speakers recommended using claims aging statistics, which track how long insurers take to pay claims, as market conduct indicators, Stead says.

On the life side, speakers talked about indicators such as cancellation rates, nonrenewal rates, and the ratio of replacement business to total new business.

Yet another means of identifying market conduct outliers would be to measure the number of complaints that a company receives directly, Stead adds.

Regulators are also looking at the idea of developing a “how to” guide that would discuss ways examiners can use existing data more efficiently.