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Turnover Changes Look Of NAIC

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Many familiar faces are missing this week at a commissioners’ meeting in Arizona.[@@]

Members of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., continue to talk about topics such as congressional efforts to change insurance regulation, producer commission disclosure requirements and the NAIC’s Web site.

But at least 5 commissioners have given up their posts and a sixth, Jose Montemayor of Texas, says he will not seek reappointment when his term ends in May.

The 5 officials who already have left their commissioners jobs include Sally McCarty of Indiana, Mike Pickens of Arkansas, Gregory Serio of New York, Merwin Stewart of Utah and Terri Vaughan of Iowa.

But, even with the current turnover, “there is still a lot of institutional knowledge and experience among commissioners,” says NAIC President Diane Koken, the Pennsylvania insurance commissioner. Koken has been a commissioner since August 1997.

Although the state-run insurance regulation system is facing criticism from supporters of a shift to a federal regulatory system, Koken says she thinks the turnover is the result of the demands of the job and the opportunities that have come up for individual commissioners.

John Oxendine, Georgia insurance commissioner since January 1994, says each new crop of commissioners brings new talents to the NAIC.

“I don’t think [the latest shift] will have any effect on the NAIC,” Oxendine says.

Jim Long, who has been North Carolina’s insurance commissioner since 1984, says the NAIC still has a good balance of veterans and newcomers.

The NAIC already has a mentoring program to help get new commissioners up to speed, because tackling all of the issues that the NAIC addresses can be like “taking a drink of water from a fire hydrant,” Long says.

One challenge will be getting more companies and states to use the NAIC’s System for Electronic Rate Form Filing, which handled about 171,000 filings in 2004, Long says.

Producer compensation is also getting a close look at the Arizona meeting.

Koken declined to say whether the NAIC will be part of settlement discussions that New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is holding with Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., New York.