The Insurance Industrys
Most Powerful Man
It may surprise you to realize that the most powerful man in the insurance industry doesnt even work in the business. Rather, he is employed by a large conglomerate headquartered on the Potomac known as the federal government.
Im speaking, of course, of Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, who is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Mr. Oxley has already gained some fame (some would say infamy) as the House lead sponsor of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed in mid-2002 and giving headaches ever since to financial institutions all over the country.
Mr. Oxley controls the insurance regulatory agenda in the House and everyone in the insurance business knows itcompanies, agents and regulators. So, when Mr. Oxley speaks, people in the business listen, hanging on his every word. And even if its not quite clear what Mr. Oxley is prescribing, praise for his wisdom follows, even as heads are scratched.
Mr. Oxley did speak at a closed session of commissioners at the spring meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners last month in New York where he lightly sketched concepts for a state-federal partnership in the insurance regulation area. By all accounts it was fairly vague and a long, long way from any kind of language needed for legislation.
Nonetheless, the requisite effusiveness surfaced without fail. Indeed, it was almost comical to see how quickly various players fell into line in support of Mr. Oxleys musings. It was like watching dominoes cascading.
Needless to say, state insurance regulators were immensely relieved to hear that the chairman is not contemplating a federal takeover, dual regulation or even a federal charter option. His words essentially spelled two of the sweetest words in the language–job security.