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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation

Outgoing Ala. Commissioner Heads To Swiss Re

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Swiss Reinsurance Company is bringing in Alabama Insurance Commissioner Walter Bell to run Swiss Re America Holding Corp.

Bell, a former president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., will take over as chairman of Swiss Re America, New York, Sept. 2.

Bell will report directly to Swiss Re Chief Executive Officer Jacques Aigrain.

Bell is now a member of the NAIC Executive Committee and chairman of the NAIC International Insurance Relations Committee.

He recently was appointed to the board of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, and he is vice chairman of the Executive Committee at the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, Basel, Switzerland.

Under Alabama state law, “No public official or public employee who personally participates in the direct regulation, audit, or investigation of a private business, corporation, partnership, or individual shall within two years of his or her departure from such employment solicit or accept employment with such private business, corporation, partnership, or individual.”

The NAIC Web site says Swiss Re Life & Health America Inc. is licensed in Alabama and in 47 other states.

In an interview, Bell said his last day with the department will be on Aug. 31 and that he will not be in the office after Aug. 22.

Bell says he is being employed by a holding company, not by the entity licensed in Alabama. He says he will not be dealing with the Alabama legislature or Alabama regulators, and he says he will be relocating to New York.

While Bell was the NAIC president, the NAIC opposed efforts to give insurers the ability to choose between regulation by state regulators and regulation by a new federal insurance agency.

NAIC President Sandy Praeger said in July at a meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., that the NAIC continues to oppose an optional federal concept.

In May 2007, Swiss Re, Zurich, expressed support for the National Insurance Act of 2007, a bill that would give insurers, reinsurers and agents the option of obtaining a federal charter.

“A global business must be supported by a strong, centralized regulator,” Swiss Re says on its Web site. “Swiss Re believes that these objectives can best be achieved through an optional federal charter for reinsurers. A move to a more effective and efficient U.S. regulatory system for reinsurers will ultimately make the U.S. a more competitive and more responsive jurisdiction and result in lowering regulatory costs while maintaining, or enhancing, the safety and soundness of the industry.”

Bell says he will be looking at Swiss Re’s positions on the optional federal charter issue when he assumes his job.

Swiss Re spokesperson Alayna Tagariello says it is premature to discuss any potential review or change in policies.


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