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Fingerprint Model Waits In Limbo

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Members of a key National Association of Insurance Commissioners panel seem to be reluctant to touch a controversial fingerprinting proposal.

Officials on the Market Regulation and Consumer Affairs Committee at the NAIC, Kansas City, Mo., recently talked for an hour about the Authorization for Criminal History Record Check Model Act and efforts to move the model to the executive committee.

After the discussion, Iowa Commissioner Susan Voss, chair of the committee, called for a motion on the model. She received no response.

Longtime industry observers, who expect insurance commissioners to talk about the model in February, say they have never heard of such a lack of a response to a call for a motion.

The lack of response suggests that regulators may not be comfortable with the current version of the model, observers say.

The fingerprinting model would set up a national system for collecting life insurance agent and broker fingerprints. The system also might collect the fingerprints of life insurance company officers.

The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va., has been supporting passage of the model and has expressed disappointment at the failure of the market regulation committee to move the model to the executive committee.

“Our organization as well as other industry trade groups and the NAIC have invested nearly 3 years of time and effort to draft a model that promotes uniformity and coordination among states, and streamlines the producer licensing process,” NAIFA says in a statement. “NAIFA hopes the NAIC, under Iowa Commissioner Susan Voss’ leadership, can revive the effort to adopt a model law for criminal background checks, and that it won’t miss an opportunity to bring insurance regulation into the 21st century.”

Scott Cipinko, a lawyer who represents the Life Insurers Council, Atlanta, says that the model would raise costs for small insurers and that the benefits of implementing the model are uncertain.

The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, has objected to a preference by the NAIC for NAIC control over the fingerprint repository.

The ACLI could support the idea of housing officer and director fingerprints under a joint regulator-industry body, the National Insurance Producer Registry, rather than in an NAIC repository, according to Michael Lovendusky, an ACLI associate general counsel.

The ACLI also likes a provision in the current model that would exempt producers licensed with the National Association of Securities Dealers, Washington.

The ACLI will wait to see what step regulators hope to take next, Lovendusky said.

The ACLI would be cautious of one proposal in circulation that would eliminate the central repository concept and, instead, rely on individual states to collect the fingerprints of life insurance company officers and directors, Lovendusky said