Catherine Weatherford, executive vice president and CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, is leaving her post, the NAIC confirmed.
At press time, it is unclear whether Weatherford resigned or whether she was asked to leave. 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 had not released an anticipated statement from its leadership nor had National Underwriter had success in reaching Weatherford.
A compilation of regulatory and industry sources suggest that some NAIC members were unhappy with management as well as the direction the organization was taking. And those issues were raised when contract negotiations began, these sources say. All sources asked not to be quoted on the record.
The NAIC had recently announced that it would move senior staff to Washington as the issue of federal oversight becomes more prominent. Multiple sources said that Weatherford had asked for more money as part of that move and as part of a change in her responsibilities.
In January 2008 the NAIC released pay information for top executives that stated 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.
But under Weatherford’s charge, the NAIC has grown as witnessed by its 2008 $68.3 million budget.
Another source said that a “small group of commissioners had banded together” because of unhappiness over how the organization, based in Kansas City, Mo., was handling the issues of NARAB, and a bill introduced by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., that includes a proposal to create an Office of Insurance Information. The source said that the displeasure was over “who’s running the shop and are you really representing your members.”
Another source concurred. “Over the years, there has been a shift in the organization from membership driven to staff driven. The perception was that if you go to the Hill, you don’t represent state interests but the interests of the NAIC.”
Another issue that angered some commissioners, according to sources was a letter that went out to the National Governors Association and the National Association of Attorneys General, both in Washington, expressing support for the OII. The source said that some commissioners maintained that there was no legal basis for the NAIC to send out a letter to a commissioner’s governor without that commissioner’s knowledge.
Yet another source noted that Weatherford did not get along with the CEOs of the National Insurance Producer Registry or the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission because she was perceived to be usurping authority from these entities.
And, this source said, there was “unrest internally” from some of the NAIC staff.
But, in spite of these assertions by people familiar with the matter, several insurance commissioners contacted by National Underwriter held out praise for Weatherford.
“I have known Cathy longer than most commissioners. I am one of the few commissioners that was around when she came to work at the NAIC,” says Georgia Commissioner John Oxendine. He describes her as being “responsive” when he made requests of the NAIC.
“Cathy was very successful in her efforts to advance state-based consumer protections,” said Maine Superintendent Mila Kofman.
Weatherford assumed her duties in July 1996. Prior to her post at NAIC, she was Oklahoma insurance commissioner from 1991 through 1996.
–Arthur D. Postal contributed to this story.