Plus ?a Change

It is not likely the French were thinking of proceedings at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners when they coined the immortal phrase, “Plus ?a change, plus cest la m?me chose.” But they could have been.

For that old familiar feeling, that feeling of havent we been here before, one need go no further than the endgame surrounding the Senior Protection in Annuity Transactions model regulation.

Remember, this is a regulation that has been wending its way through the regulatory process for some five years. And keep in mind that this was five long years of innumerable discussions that essentially started because regulators felt they needed to do “something.”

And so, at the very end of the process, what do we find? We find the commissioners going into a closed door conference and amending what had been previously agreed to. We find segments of the industry complainingand rightfully so, we feel, even though in this case the amendments were recommended by the American Council of Life Insurers–because of these maneuvers.

And, finally, we find consumer advocates–a group that has truly refined the technique of having the perfect be the enemy of the good–objecting to the models adoption because it “has been watered down to the point that there are no meaningful consumer protections in the model.”

This is like a bad marriage where the participants know what is going to set each other off and yet continue to do it anyway.

Most at fault here are the commissioners who persist in having closed door sessions and then presenting a fait accompli.

Even if one feels that there was “no evil intent” in this particular case, it is still fair to question why the commissioners continue to do something they know is going to get a negative response. They can say it is their prerogative, but they should also know by now that it does nothing to enhance respect for the process.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, September 19, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.