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NAIC Officers Optimistic About Regulatory Updates

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NU Online News Service, June 15, 2004, 12:23 p.m. EDT, San Francisco – Top officers of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners say their group is moving ahead with efforts to modernize state life insurance regulation.[@@]

NAIC President Ernst Csiszar, the South Carolina insurance director, and NAIC Vice President Jim Poolman, the North Dakota insurance commissioner, spoke here at the Kansas City, Mo., group’s summer meeting.

Csiszar and Poolman made their remarks shortly after the NAIC presented a regulatory standards “road map” to U.S. House Financial Services Chairman Michael Oxley.

The NAIC notes in the road map document that diversity is a strength of the state regulatory system, but the group discusses 15 areas where the NAIC believes that national standards can be implemented effectively.

- The road map: State regulators need to be responsive to requests coming from Congress while recognizing the importance of state regulation, and that is why the NAIC has introduced the regulatory standards road map, Csiszar said.

Poolman pointed out that he is a former state legislator and a strong advocate of state authority. However, he said, legislators and regulators need to cooperate, and it is important that the NAIC develop a road map to help Congress modernize state insurance regulation.

“This is really the first couple of innings in a 9-inning game,” Poolman said.

- The interstate life product filing compact: In theory, the compact should make life easier for life insurers, by giving them the ability to file products for all participating states at a single office. But representatives for the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, recently said that the compact effort is in danger of failing because of a tendency to adopt standards set by a handful of states.

Csiszar said he has a “serious disagreement with the ACLI.”

“I am personally upset about” the ACLI’s recent comments about the compact, Csiszar said. “We are trying to do our darndest to get standards in place. I’m rather ticked. This is an area in which we are finally making progress and doing it quickly.”

The ACLI’s comments “seem almost Machiavellian in a way,” Csiszar added. “They are really setting us up for failure, and I’m wondering if that is really what they want so they can go to the feds and say that we can’t get anything done.”

Poolman noted that the interstate product filing compact was not developed to cut back on regulation.

Some have argued that the ACLI did not want the NAIC to succeed, Poolman said.

“The fact that we are coming so close [to setting up the compact] has created a certain amount of panic,” Poolman said.

- A health insurance product filing compact: America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, has proposed developing a multistate health product filing system, and the NAIC is open to that possibility, Csiszar said.

- Market conduct: Csiszar and Poolman agreed that the NAIC and the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Albany, N.Y., should be able to agree on a single market conduct surveillance model act.