Catherine Weatherford, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, is leaving her post, the NAIC says.

Andrew Beal, the NAIC’s deputy executive vice president, has been named interim executive vice president and CEO while a search for a successor is undertaken.

At press time, the NAIC, Kansas City, Mo., had not released a statement about Weatherford’s departure and Weatherford could not be reached for comment.

Weatherford has been involved in negotiations to renew her contract with the NAIC, according to several sources who requested anonymity.

The NAIC recently announced that it would move senior staff to Washington as the issue of federal oversight becomes more prominent.

Several sources said Weatherford had asked for more money in connection with that move and proposed changes in her responsibilities.

In January 2008 the NAIC released pay information for top executives that stated that Weatherford’s salary was $370,000. Chris Evangel, managing director of the Securities Valuation Office, was the next highest paid, at $307,878 followed by Beal, at $262,500.

Under Weatherford, the NAIC has grown significantly. It has a 2008 budget of $68.3 million.

One source said a “small group of commissioners had banded together” because of unhappiness about how the NAIC has been handling the return of congressional efforts to create a National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers, and also about how the NAIC has been handling a House bill that would create a federal Office of Insurance Information within the U.S. Treasury Department.

Sources also reported that some commissioners question whether the NAIC staff had a legal basis for sending a recent letter expressing support for the OII to the National Governors Association, Washington, and the National Association of Attorneys General, Washington.

But several insurance commissioners praised Weatherford.

“I have known Cathy longer than most commissioners,” says Georgia Commissioner John Oxendine. “I am one of the few commissioners that was around when she came to work at the NAIC.”

Oxendine says Weatherford has been “responsive” when he has made requests of the NAIC.

“Cathy was very successful in her efforts to advance state-based consumer protections,” says Maine Superintendent Mila Kofman.

Weatherford assumed her current position in July 1996.

From 1991 to 1996, she was the Oklahoma insurance commissioner.

Arthur D. Postal contributed to this story.