The National Conference of Insurance Legislators today sidestepped the controversy about the proposed “term life only” agent license.[@@]

Members of NCOIL, Troy, N.Y., voted here at the group’s summer meeting to address the matter by looking at solutions for improving service to the underinsured life insurance market.

Some companies, including the Primerica unit at Citigroup Inc., New York, say creating a special license for agents who sell only term life insurance would improve service to middle-income and low income consumers. Term-only proposal supporters say those middle-income and low-income consumers are of little interest to traditional life insurers. Proposal supporters say traditional life insurers now focus on selling to wealthy individuals.

When the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., held its spring meeting, one subcommittee blocked an effort to get the NAIC to endorse the term-only proposal, but the NAIC’s Life Insurance Committee revived the term-only endorsement measure.

Rep. Shirley Bowler, an NCOIL member who serves in the Louisiana House, helped spur that revival at the NAIC meeting by promising that her group would take a further look at the issue.

But she was unable to persuade her fellow legislators of the merits of that proposal. A watered-down substitute was approved at the last minute.

“I would have liked to see the term only life license passed,” Bowler said.

The NCOIL resolution recommends that a study compare all proposed solutions for helping underserved consumers, and it says that, ultimately, each state has to find a solution for its own residents.