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International Insurance Regulators Converge On Fort Lauderdale

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Officials and insurance company executives from around the world are heading to Florida this week to catch some rays and talk about the future of insurance regulation.

The International Association of Insurance Supervisors, Basel, Switzerland, will start its 3-day annual conference Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a city that may be best known for its appeal to college students on spring break.

The IAIS will be offering programming designed to appeal to a different clientele, such as a session on promoting sound insurance markets that will feature luminaries such as Roger Ferguson, chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corp., Armonk, N.Y., and Nobuyoshi Chihara of the Financial Services Agency in Japan.

A session on creating supervisory and regulatory capacity for the insurance industries in emergency economies is expected to include panelists from regulatory agencies in Argentina, Bermuda, Chile and Mexico as well as from the World Bank, Washington.

The IAIS itself has given the conference the theme “a global climate for change,” to reflect the many varied issues facing IAIS members in countries throughout the world.

“Globalization, economic uncertainty, climate change and financial innovation, to name a few, all reinforce the need for supervisors to work together to develop consistent standards and reach out to emerging markets, IAIS Executive Committee Chair Michel Flam?e says in a statement about the conference.

One session of special interest to U.S. regulators, and regulated entities, may be a panel discussion on the kind of “principles-based” supervision that has taken root in the United Kingdom.

One topic at that session will be the European Union’s Solvency II accounting update initiative, according to the program notes.

Speakers will talk about Solvency II as a “drive of adjustments in the supervisory culture,” the IAIS says.

Peter Clark of the International Accounting Standards Board, London, will speak at another session about the IASB “Phase II” discussion project.

Participants in the IASB project want to develop an International Financial Reporting Standard on accounting for insurance contracts.

The project would address accounting by both insurers and policyholders, according to IASB.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board, Norwalk, Conn., a U.S. accounting standards group, asked constituents in August to give it their thoughts on whether there really is a need for a project on accounting for insurance contracts.

The IAIS meeting also will offer a hearing permitting interested parties to comment on financial reporting for solvency purposes and on a “mutual recognition framework” for supervising insurance groups.

One U.S. official familiar with the meeting, Steven Goldman, New Jersey commissioner of banking and insurance, says there has been progress on efforts to restructure the global framework.

Some of the work involves collateral requirements for reinsurers that want to operate in the United States, Goldman says.

Doug Barnert, executive director of the Group of North American Insurance Enterprises, New York, says his group wants to make sure that any efforts to develop a single set of insurance standards will not put the U.S. industry at a competitive disadvantage.


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