An officer of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators says the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has repeatedly disregarded the “sunshine laws” in effect in many member regulators’ home states.
Rep. Brian Kennedy, a Rhode Island state lawmaker who is a vice president at NCOIL, Troy, N.Y., discussed the issue April 30 in a letter to NAIC President Walter Bell, who is the Alabama insurance commissioner.
“The NAIC is abusing the use and purpose of executive sessions,” Kennedy writes in the letter, referring to NAIC private strategy meetings.
The closed meetings are “not in line” with open meetings laws, which typically allow for closed discussions of pending litigation, trade secrets, and character and competence, Kennedy writes.
Kennedy also expressed his concerns during the NAIC spring meeting in New York in March, and then in a March 20 letter to Bell.
During the NAIC spring meeting, there were 14 closed meetings, including the Commissioners Roundtable and a government affairs meeting, according to NCOIL Executive Director Sue Nolan.
The NAIC, Kansas City, Mo., holds the position that as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with voluntary membership, it is not a governmental entity and is not subject to open meetings laws.
Kennedy contends that the individual state officials who participate in NAIC activities are subject to the open meeting laws in effect in their home states.
Insurance industry representatives have complained periodically that during quarterly meetings, open meetings sometimes go into closed sessions.
Bell says the overwhelming majority of NAIC meetings are open.
“The NAIC has a liberal open meetings policy,” Bell says. However, he says, “there are occasions when the organization must conduct some meetings, due to subject matter, for members only, and we stand behind our right to do so.”
The NAIC has responded to Kennedy’s letter by listing the following reasons as possible causes for closed meetings:
1. Potential or pending litigation or administrative proceedings which may involve the NAIC, any NAIC member, or their staffs, in any capacity involving their official or prescribed duties, requests for briefs of amicus curiae, or legal advice.
2. Pending investigations which may involve either the NAIC or any member in any capacity.
3. Specific companies, entities or individuals.
4. Internal or administrative matters of the NAIC or any NAIC member, including budget, personnel and contractual matters, and including consideration of internal administration of the NAIC/SSO by the Internal Administration Subcommittee or any subgroup appointed thereunder.
5. Elections of officers of the NAIC.
6. Consultations with NAIC staff members.
7. Consideration of individual state insurance department’s compliance with NAIC financial regulation standards by the Financial Regulation Standards and Accreditation Committee or any subgroup appointed thereunder.
8. Consideration of strategic planning issues relating to legislative matters.
9. Any other subject required to be kept confidential under any state or federal law or under any judicial or administrative order.