The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is expecting to attract more than 40 commissioners to an annual commissioners’ meeting that starts Saturday.
Topics to be discussed at the meeting, which will end Wednesday, will include mechanisms states could use to enact federal insurance standards more quickly and state producer licensing uniformity, according to Sandy Praeger, the Kansas insurance commissioner and the new president of the NAIC, Kansas City, Mo.
Attracting so many commissioners, particularly at a time when many state legislatures are in session, shows how committed commissioners are to NAIC processes, Praeger said during an interview.
Attending the meeting is a good way for new commissioners to learn about the NAIC, Praeger added.
Since January 2007, 24 new insurance commissioners have taken office.
The new commissioners have entered as the Bush administration and some members of Congress have been talking about ways to make insurance regulation more similar from state to state.
“Whether or not there is an [optional federal charter] in the offing, some of the concerns that are driving the OFC argument are very legitimate,” Praeger said. “Clearly, uniformity is absolutely essential, and all states need to be on board.”
In the past, Praeger said, the NAIC has developed national standards in connection with efforts such as the one that created the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers.
In the future, the NAIC could develop models that Congress would then enact, Praeger said.
One current project, the effort to eliminate many of the differences in state producer licensing rules that have cropped up in recent years, has involved conducting a state-by-state review of producer licensing requirements, such as new continuing education requirements.
Members of the team running the project originally thought that only a few aspects of producer licensing rules needed to be more uniform, but the team later decided that there were more types of differences than was initially thought, Praeger said.
In some cases, all lawmakers have to do to eliminate the differences is to change old statutory requirements, Praeger said.
“We want to definitely get this finished so that agents can be confident that there are no barriers now to state reciprocity,” Praeger said. “Hopefully, in another year, we’ll be there.”
Also during the interview:
- Praeger noted that New York already is working on becoming a member of the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission, which now accepts insurance product filings for 29 states and for Puerto Rico. The number of states belonging to the commission could increase to as many as 40 by the end of the year, Praeger said.
- The NAIC may set up teams to provide technical help for states that lack the expertise to handle the shift to a principles-based reserving system, Praeger said.
- State insurance regulators want to be working with state legislators, Praeger said.
Praeger said she recently talked to Rep. Brian Kennedy, D-Hopkinton, R.I., the president of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y. about ways the NAIC and NCOIL can work together.
NAIC officers plan to attend the NCOIL meeting in Washington starting Feb. 28, Praeger said.