As a reporter, I am keenly aware of the value of words. When used to speak the truth, they are priceless. But when used to pay lip service, they can be cheap.
A recent high-level roundtable organized by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in Kansas City, Mo., creates doubt over the phrase “protecting the consumer” and the value of those words. In theory, at least, these words should be paramount.
The roundtable, held in Washington on May 21, was attended by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., majority whip of the Senate; Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee; and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., a former state insurance commissioner, according to an article by National Underwriter’s Arthur D. Postal (see NU, May 26.)
The high-powered gathering, the article states, also included 28 state insurance regulators, 14 representatives of other state regulatory agencies as well as major trade groups including the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
In a brief item highlighted on the NAIC website, the trade group notes that insurance commissioners and senior regulatory staff are attending a 2-day educational meeting with members of Congress including Durbin, Pomeroy and Sen. Ben Nelson, (D-Neb.).
But consumer representatives are not mentioned in either of these accounts which seems ironic for an organization that is making a case for its relevancy based on how attuned they are to consumers and their needs.
The omission was not lost on funded consumer representatives with the NAIC. In a May 26 letter to Sandy Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner and NAIC president, Birny Birnbaum, an NAIC funded consumer representative, expresses disappointment over the fact that there was no consumer representation.