NU Online News Service, Oct. 29, 2003, 5:33 p.m. EST – The New York State Insurance Department says its examiners often take membership in the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association, Washington, into account when conducting market conduct exams.

Some insurance companies and insurance company trade groups have been complaining about what they say are wide variations in states’ market conduct exam practices. The General Accounting Office, an arm of Congress, recently published a report confirming that exam practices vary widely.

In New York, “the insurance department is continuing its efforts to promote higher standards in connection with market conduct activities,” according to a circular letter issued Oct. 27 by department Superintendent Gregory Serio.

The department will be reaching out to life insurers to discuss ways to improve the market conduct exam process, Serio writes.

Serio notes that department examiners routinely ask whether life insurers are IMSA members.

“If a company is a member, the examiners request and review the documentation gathered to demonstrate compliance with IMSA’s standards,” Serio writes.

“Examiners may consider the IMSA documentation in determining the scope of their own review of the marketing and sales practices of a company, including such areas as agent training and licensing; replacements; and advertising,” Serio adds. “Examiners may also make use of the IMSA documentation in certain other areas such as consumer complaint handling.”

The New York department has posted Serio’s letter, Circular Letter Number 17, at http://www.ins.state.ny.us/cl03_17.htm