The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a March 7 hearing on whether the antitrust exemption enjoyed by insurers through the McCarran-Ferguson Act is good for consumers.
A homeowner from New Orleans and 2 senior senators from coastal states will recount their problems with the property-casualty insurance industry’s handling of Hurricane Katrina claims at the hearing.
No life insurance industry official will represent the industry at the hearing.
But a life industry official says the antitrust issue is of critical importance to the life industry.
“Insurance regulatory reform is one our top priorities,” says Whit Cornman, a spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington. “Since this is the first hearing for the year on this topic, we’ll be very interested to see what develops.”
The ACLI believes that a discussion of McCarran-Ferguson should be part of any debate about giving insurers the option of choosing between a state or federal charter, Cornman says.
“If Congress is going to consider McCarran-Ferguson, it should do so as part of the broader discussion of an optional federal charter and insurance modernization, and not as an isolated matter,” Cornman says.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the lead sponsor of S. 618, the Insurance Industry Competition Act.