It’s getting to the point where you expect the National Conference of Insurance Legislators to get so worked up that it ineluctably hurtles into recreating Peter Finch’s immortal claim-to-fame line in the film “Network.”
“We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.”
This rage, which has gone well beyond the simmering stage, is directed not at those who one might assume are NCOIL’s adversaries but, in fact, at an organization that should be the state insurance legislators’ most natural allies. Yep, you guessed it, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
I believe even the NAIC would admit there are different constituencies that it ticks off with regularity. At one time or another, companies, producers, other regulators, the U.S. Congress and others all have had their differences–to put it mildly–with the NAIC.
Part of this is due to the organization’s anomalousness. Is it fish or fowl? Public or private? For-profit or non-profit?
Some of the rancor toward the NAIC is due to an ingrained propensity to operate by its own laws regardless of what compelling reasons other parties put forth for wanting it to act differently. This is what I referred to in last week’s column as NAIC “acting as if it is in a vacuum.”
From what’s boiling at NCOIL lately, it seems as if state legislators have just about had it with this highhandedness.
I invite you to read Jim Connolly’s Q&A with Rhode Island State Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy on page 7 to see how mad one legislator can get. And then there is Michigan State Sen. Alan Sanborn’s letter to NAIC President Walter Bell regarding the NAIC’s accreditation process, which you can read about on page 6.
Sanborn has a lot of problems with how the NAIC has basically altered many facets of the accreditation process. His annoyance is understandable. Here is a (mostly) unelected body of regulators calling the shots to elected legislators on what models are required to be passed in a state in order for its insurance department to be accredited by the NAIC.
Many of these models have been adopted by the NAIC without significant input from NCOIL, the organization whose members are responsible for passing the legislation in their individual states.
Is it any wonder that the NAIC’s track record on uniform adoption–only 3 out of 35 models passed in more than 26 states since 1996–is so very poor? The NAIC doesn’t seem to be getting much buy-in in the state legislatures.
That percentage of 8.6%, in fact, is so abysmal that it has forced the NAIC to rethink its policy on which models laws are worth working on or revising.
In addition, however, to this new policy that governs the internal workings of the NAIC vis-?-vis models, it seems to me that the NAIC should be devoting some major rethinking to its relations with state legislators. The intent here should be to form a true working partnership, not one in which the NAIC, in its wisdom, hands down model laws to be passed (or not, as has been the case).
I don’t think NCOIL’s rage is going to evaporate once its various officials have gotten their discontents off their chests. I hope it does not and would encourage the industry to prod NCOIL if it sees that organization backing down and accepting anything less than the full partnership legislators are due.
Kennedy makes a good point in saying the NAIC morphs into whatever it wants depending on where it is and who it is addressing.
It really is time that somebody pinned down this butterfly.