International Insurance Council May Be Missed By The Industry

It is sad to see the passing of the International Insurance Council, the association that was dedicated to opening markets worldwide to free trade in insurance.

The IIC, which was based in Washington, D.C., closed shop, according to its board of directors, because there were no more battles to fight.

With the establishment of the World Trade Organization and the agreement by China to broadly open its insurance market, the major issues have been resolved.

At the same time, IICs membership was declining. Many insurance companies, the IIC board said, decided to concentrate on the domestic market, leaving only a few insurers interested in global business.

The remaining global companies apparently did not represent a large enough membership base to sustain IIC.

It is an unfortunate end to an organization that served the industry, and the nation, so well.

Not very long ago, when the nation was concerned about the trade deficit in manufacturing, leaders of the IIC recognized the potential of trade in insurance and other services. U.S. insurance companies, they emphasized, could help shrink the overall trade deficit by global trade in insurance.

IIC played a major role in making trade in services a significant part of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

IIC also helped sponsor and lead trade missions to China, India and other major potential insurance markets.

Perhaps these activities are no longer needed now that the WTO is in operation and global insurance markets are starting to open.

If so, then the IIC can truly be called a victim of its own success. But if not, then the insurance industry may come to regret the day it allowed such a venerable organization to close its doors.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, August 5, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.