NU Online News Service, Mar. 3, 2004, 3:55 p.m. EST – Washington: The president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners is pushing a deregulation agenda and risking the success of state insurance regulation, a coalition of consumer activist groups charges.[@@]

The pro-deregulation views of NAIC President Ernest Csiszar, who is the South Carolina Insurance Commissioner, “are on the extreme of the spectrum of views of members of the NAIC,” the Americans for Insurance Reform charge in a letter to all NAIC members.

“Consumers will be hurt and state insurance regulators deprived of authority to help consumers or address market problems under the deregulation agenda,” the coalition adds.

The letter was signed by J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, Washington, and Norma P. Garcia, a representative of Consumers Union, Washington. They signed the letter on behalf of Americans for Insurance Reform.

A spokesman for the South Carolina insurance department says the department had not seen a copy of the letter as of this writing.

The letter charges that as NAIC president, Csiszar “is willing to push the radical deregulation agenda at the expense of state insurance regulation.”

For example, NAIC has long debated the issue of personal lines rate and form regulation, without consensus. Some regulators favor deregulation, and others favor regulatory oversight as needed if market forces fail to protect consumers.

NAIC has a model property-casualty rate and form law that represents a compromise, but NAIC leaders have bottled up that compromise, the letter says.

“When Director Csiszar uses his position as NAIC president to stifle debate, eliminate opposing views and push his radical deregulation agenda, he is not serving the NAIC as an institution, other state insurance regulators or consumers,” the letter says.