Industry group reps and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners are talking about ways to reconcile the NAIC’s 2009 budget with the financial pressures now facing insurers.

State insurance commissioners advanced the 2009 NAIC budget following a public hearing held earlier this week.

Members of the NAIC’s internal administration subcommittee have approved the budget, according to NAIC President-elect Roger Sevigny, the New Hampshire Commissioner.

The budget still must be approved by the NAIC’s executive committee and the body that represents all voting NAIC members.

During the budget hearing, representatives from industry trade groups emphasized the effects of hard economic times on their members’ operations.

Insurers are hoping for constraint in the NAIC’s budget given the fact that “the insurance industry is facing revenue constraints,” said Deirdre Manna, a vice president at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Des Plaines, Ill.

Insurers have to “service their customers and clients with less,” Manna said.

Trade group reps raised questions about a $540,000 budget item for an international liaison director and $168,000 set aside for insurance commissioner and insurance department staffer travel expenses.

The NAIC needs the international liaison director so that the United States will have daily representation as new global insurance and financial services laws are shaped, Sevigny said.

Creating the liaison position may cut some travel costs now incurred by the NAIC, according to NAIC President Sandy Praeger, the Kansas insurance commissioner.

Regulators said the NAIC needs regulator travel expense funding to help departments affected by tight state budgets.

Tom Sullivan, Connecticut insurance commissioner, said the governor of his state has banned all travel by state officials.

Sullivan said he had to “beg, borrow and steal” to get the money for him and 4 other Connecticut regulators to attend the fall NAIC meeting.

“States are really hurting,” agreed Utah Commissioner Kent Michie.

Michie said he had just had a session with Utah’s budget director. “We’re going to be cut short on travel,” Michie reported.

The NAIC depends on state insurance department staffs to help complete its work, Michie said.