WASHINGTON — Three more people have been nominated by President Barack Obama to be members of the board of the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB II), including John M. Huff, NAIC president and Missouri insurance director.

The most recent nominations bring the total number of appointees to 10, which is the number needed to constitute a quorum and allow an agency that the industry has been trying to create for decades can soon begin to operate. Other nominations were made in January and April.

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NARAB II is intended to streamline the non-resident producer licensing process. It will serve as a central clearinghouse allowing an insurance producer licensed in his/her home state to sell, solicit or negotiate in every other state in which the producer intends to do business, provided the producer is licensed for those lines of business in his/her home state, and pays the state’s licensing fee.

“Now that there’s a quorum and 10 of the 13 have been named, we hope that the Senate will be able to confirm them soon,” said Joel Wood, senior vice president of government affairs for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers.

Wood said there is a streamlined process for confirmation, and now “it is just a matter of getting on the Senate calendar.”

Wood said the background checks and hurdles for presidential appointments were “onerous and cumbersome, but the group of nominees looks great and diverse.”

Wood added that, to date, there have only been informal conversations among some of the nominees. “Hopefully they’ll be able to get together this fall,” he said.

He said the first order of business will be establishment of bylaws and beginning to figure out a funding mechanism. NARAB II was enacted into law by President Obama’s signature in Jan. 2015.

“We’ve always believed it would take a couple of years of establishing an infrastructure and establishing membership criteria,” Wood said. But, he noted, “it, took near a quarter century to pass the thing,” adding that the CIAB formed its first task force to work on interstate nonresident licensure in 1933. 

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By law, NARAB’s 13-member board is made up of eight state insurance commissioners, three individuals with expertise in property/casualty insurance and licensing, and two members with similar expertise in the life or health insurance arena. All appointments must be approved by the Senate.

Jules Gaudreau, president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Brokers (NAIFA), said that when NARAB is fully implemented, it will reduce licensing red tape for many NAIFA members, and allow them to more effectively serve and maintain longstanding relationships with clients across state lines. “NARAB maintains the proper regulation of insurance at the state level, but removes some licensing hurdles, so it is a win-win for advisors and consumers,” Gaudreau said.

“NAIFA remains involved with the issue,” Gaudreau added. “NAIFA member and former trustee Thomas McLeary is among those nominated for the NARAB board by President Obama, and we urge his quick confirmation by the Senate, so agents and their clients can begin realizing the benefits of NARAB as soon as possible.”

McLeary is president of Endow, Inc., a position he has held since 1978.  He was also an agent with Connecticut Mutual Life from 1981 to 1989. Endow is based in Chicago.

Other industry member nominated by Obama include Susan Louise Castaneda, assistant vice president and compliance officer at The Hartford; Heather A. Steinmiller, senior vice president and general counsel for Conner Strong & Buckelew Companies, Inc., Philadelphia;  Robert Suglia, senior vice president and general counsel of Amica Mutual Insurance Company, Amica R.I.; and Angel L. Ripley, president of V.W. Brown Insurance Services, Inc., Columbia, Md.

Charles M. Chamness, president and CEO of National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, lauded Suglia. “Bob is an outstanding choice for the NARAB board,” Chamness said.

“NARAB was created to streamline insurance agent and broker licensing across state lines, bringing more competition and consumer choice to the marketplace,” Chamness said, adding that, “There is simply no one more qualified to help lead this effort than Bob.”

Besides Hoff, other insurance regulators named to the NARAB board include Raymond G. Farmer, South Carolina; Mike Rothman, Minnesota; Lori Wing-Heier, Alaska; and Marguerite Salazar, Colorado.

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NARAB likely to be enacted in this Congress

Opinion: NARAB II is needed