As the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission organizes itself, one clear message is being sent by commission constituents: Make decision-making an open process.
It was a message that Diane Koken, chair of the Interim Management Committee and Interstate Insurance Product Regulation commissioner, responded to in opening comments during a public hearing held here at the fall meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
“We are working to find our own process–the right process. The public had and will continue to have the opportunity to participate in the management committee and the commission itself.”
But, it was a concern that the consumer, legislative and industry advisory committees of the compact reiterated.
That message was reinforced by an amendment to the commission bylaws made by commission states, led by Ohio and supported by Texas, Vermont and Washington. Ohio’s Insurance Commissioner Ann Womer Benjamin made the motion which was unanimously adopted.
The proposal, among other points, opened meetings of a committee or subcommittee, and required that any proposal, idea or concept recommended to the management committee have at least 1 public meeting by that committee or subcommittee before advancing that proposal.
The proposal, according to Womer Benjamin, would permit input at an earlier stage for the public and other stakeholders.
In an interview, Womer Benjamin said that an open meetings process was critical to the acceptance of the Commission and its work.
This is a “creature of state law” and as such, there needs to be an open process and the ability to provide comment at an early stage, she said.
Without a more open process, Womer Benjamin, who is a former legislator, said that she believed state legislators would react negatively to the Commission.
“This Compact has the potential for greatly improving and making the life insurance industry more uniform which would benefit consumers across the country,” she said. But, Womer Benjamin continued, for that to occur, there has to be an open process from the start of the product approval process.
The consumer advisory committee started the testimony. The non-public aspect of meetings was criticized as well as the structure of the way comments were processed.