Consumer Groups: NAIC Needs To Rein In Its President

By Steven Brostoff

Washington

A coalition of consumer activist groups charged Ernie Csiszar, the current president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, with pushing a deregulation agenda and placing at risk the viability of state insurance regulation and associated consumer protections.

They called on the 50 state insurance commissioners to “rein in” Csiszars activities and direct him “to honor his position” as NAIC president, “or, if he is unwilling to do so, to resign and allow someone supportive of the NAIC and state regulation to take his place.”

Csiszar, who is the South Carolina Commissioner, favors broad deregulation and his views “are on the extreme of the spectrum of views of members of the NAIC,” the coalition charges in a letter to all the members of the Kansas City, Mo.-based NAIC. “Consumers will be hurt and state insurance regulators deprived of authority to help consumers or address market problems under the deregulation agenda.”

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 a group called Americans for Insurance Reform.

In response, Csiszar criticizes the charges as “unwarranted and inaccurate.”

“While we value the input and the views of Mr. Hunter and Ms. Garcia, in this case they have misrepresented the facts and I think it is important to point that out,” Csiszar says. “I have absolutely not abandoned state regulation nor any NAIC established policies.”

Csiszar says NAIC continues to work with members of Congress to ensure that ongoing regulatory reforms will preserve state regulatory authority and essential consumer protection initiatives.

“Congress is calling for radical reforms in state regulation,” Csiszar says, “and may take certain steps with or without state regulator involvement.”

The letter charges that Csiszar pushes his agenda by ensuring that only his perspective is presented to fellow regulators. At a conference in early February, the letter says, no consumer representative made presentations, in a departure from previous years.

The letter says the consumer organizations have no objection to a healthy discussion of the issues that includes all perspectives. “But 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.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, March 5, 2004. Copyright 2004 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.