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National Association of Insurance Commissioner Vice President Jim Poolman has resigned from the groups number two spot, meaning that state insurance commissioners will vote to fill the NAICs top two positions when they meet this week at the fall meeting in Anchorage.

Poolman says he will remain as insurance commissioner of North Dakota and intends to seek re-election on the Republican ticket in November. He says that after the resignation of Ernst Csiszar as NAIC president in mid-August, he had to decide quickly if he wanted the top spot. Csiszar resigned both as NAIC president and South Carolina insurance director to become president of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, effective Oct. 4. (See NU, Aug. 23/30.)

Poolman, who has 3 young children, says that last year he traveled 170 days both in and out of state and wants to spend more time with his family. But he says he will remain active at the NAIC.

SMARTthe new federal roadmap draft released on Aug. 20reaffirms the role of state regulators and the NAIC, Poolman says. The State Modernization and Regulatory Transparency Act is a working draft to develop federal tools for regulating insurance.

Poolman adds that he decided to step down right away so the NAIC could elect a new team that could begin work immediately.

The election, set for Sept. 12, will allow the NAIC to move forward quickly with new officers, says Cathy Weatherford, executive vice president and CEO of the NAIC.

Joel Ario, as secretary-treasurer of the NAIC, continues to hold the third leadership post and typically, he would step into the presidency, although any commissioner is eligible to run. But Ario, Oregons insurance administrator, says he most likely will seek the vice president position. The reason, he says, is that his legislature, which meets every other year, is in session next year and the department has an “ambitious agenda.” He says 2006 would be a better year for him to become president.

Filling the ranks will also depend on whether the positions run for 3 months until elections can be held in December or if they will be for 15 months, Ario adds.

Whatever the leadership lineup, Ario says there is a “deep bench at the NAIC” and a “solid leadership team” will be put in place.

He declined to say who is considering a run for the post but said there are commissioners who have volunteered to run and those who have been encouraged to run.

On the issue of SMART, Ario says the NAIC is still evaluating the document. However, he says that it is a mix of good things and things that need more review. For instance, on market conduct, Ario, who has spearheaded the effort at NAIC, says it includes much of the NAICs work. But there are parts of market conduct and other streamlining efforts at the NAIC that could be included.

He adds that it is important to determine if the federal roadmap is “a vision that still focuses on state regulation.”

SMART notes that the McCarran-Ferguson Act is a basis for the document. Ario explains that details will tell and that issues such as a 3-year timeframe when state regulation could be preempted and who would actually preempt, have not been fleshed out. Although “incentive” to improve state regulation could be helpful, “we dont need a hammer,” he adds.

Montana Insurance Commissioner John Morrison says that “with the resignations of Ernie Csiszar and the Poolman announcement, everything has been turned upside down in a sense. Stabilizing the NAIC and getting good leadership in place is the important thing,” he adds, “and toward that end the NAIC regional zones will meet to help decide what steps should be taken. I have no idea how this is going to play out,” he says. Some, according to Morrison, say there should be interim officers, while others say the position of president should be decided at the fall meeting. Still others say all the officers should be elected in Anchorage.

Morrison says that while he had been interested in the position of secretary-treasurer last spring, at this point, “everything is up in the air.” He adds that one of the things he will be focused on this fall is his re-election campaign.

Other commissioners, including Washington states Mike Kreidler and Wisconsins Jorge Gomez, said they would not run.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, September 3, 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.