State commissioners here for the fall meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners voted against allowing public access to product filings that are waiting for action from the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission.
The vote came after insurers warned that amending the current public access policy would make them less likely to use the IIPRC filing system.
Birny Birnbaum, a consumer advocate who receives funding from the NAIC, Kansas City, Mo., to represent consumers in NAIC proceedings, called the insurers’ argument “a sham.”
The IIPRC is trying to increase the number of product filings flowing through the IIPRC, to make the system profitable and self-sustaining.
The IIPRC system has handled 117 product filings, getting approvals in an average of 25 states per filing, with an average turnaround time of 31 days, according to Frances Arricale, the IIPRC’s executive director.
Representatives from many major insurers said they would be wary of using a system that would make information about their newest products available to competitors. These companies said they either have used the IIPRC system to file products, plan to use it in the near future, or plan to use the system when more standards are developed.
These companies “need to protect intellectual property,” said Michael Lovendusky, who spoke for the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington.
Randi Reichel, who spoke for America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, joined Lovendusky in opposing a filing public disclosure proposal.
Birnbaum, the funded consumer rep, who said he also spoke for the Consumer Federation of America, Washington, and the Center for Insurance Research, Cambridge, Mass., said the problems at American International Group Inc., New York, and Wall Street in general, demonstrate the need for greater transparency.