Members of the House Financial Services Committee capital markets subcommittee today approved bills that could streamline multi-state agent licensing and create a federal insurance office.
The subcommittee passed H.R. 5611, the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act, and H.R. 5840, the Insurance Information Act, by a voice vote.
H.R. 5840, a bill that would create an Office of Insurance Information inside the U.S. Treasury Department, was introduced by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., the chairman of the subcommittee.
The bill promotes “an idea that I have long held, that the federal government should have an in-house expert on insurance issues,” Kanjorski said.
Kanjorski introduced an amendment in an effort to address the concerns of the bill’s critics.
The amendment would create a role for the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., on the OII advisory board, and it would narrow the authority of the OII to pre-empt state laws to “very narrow circumstances and with a very detailed procedure,” Kanjorski said.
Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., said the bill strikes a “careful balance” between those who believe in federal oversight and those who want to keep insurance regulated by the states.
Carrier and agent groups are supporting the bill.
Frank Keating, president of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, welcomed passage of H.R. 5840.
The bill “would, at long last, establish an advisory body that can analyze the impact of tax, retirement security, trade and economic legislation on insurance consumers, and do so on a national and an international basis,” Keating says in a statement.
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va., sent panel members a letter saying a review of insurance regulatory reform proposals demonstrates the need for the bill.