State insurance regulators are still moving ahead with efforts to develop an annuity sales standard document of their own.
Members of the Annuity Suitability Working Group, part of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, are set to meet Nov. 15, at the NAIC’s national fall meeting in San Francisco.
Working group members hope to reach a consensus on a model regulation draft that could set a new standard for annuity sales.
Members of the working group heard comments on the project from representatives for consumers and the annuity industry at an NAIC-hosted meeting in October, in Chicago.
The draft was last updated Oct. 23.
Dean Cameron, director of the Idaho Department of Insurance and chairman of the working group, commented on LinkedIn, in a post soon after the Chicago meeting, that, no matter how much progress has been made, there are always those “who want more.”
Regulators at the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have been trying to define what it means for sellers of annuities to act in the best interest of consumers.
The NAIC working group’s goal is not quite the same. The working group is trying to create standards and procedures for the process of selling annuity products, so that consumers’ “insurance needs and financial objectives” at the time of the sale are appropriately addressed.
The working group’s model regulation project would create a successor to the former Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation.
Of interest, the new draft regulation refers to “consumer profile information.” The profile information would include not only the consumer’s age, annual income, financial objectives and the like, but also the consumer’s liquid net worth and risk tolerance, as well as the consumer’s willingness to accept non-guaranteed elements in the annuity, including variability in premium, death benefit or fees.
Also, the new draft defines a “material conflict of interest” as the financial interest of the producer — or the insurer where no producer is involved — in an annuity sale that a “reasonable person would expect to influence the impartiality of a recommendation.”
The Working Group, the DOL and the SEC
The working group won’t have something ready to adopt in San Francisco, but it will be looking for some more guidance from leadership. The goal is to have something to use in conversations with the SEC, noted someone familiar with the process.
Once the NAIC has approved a model regulation, it’s up to individual states to take the legislative and regulatory actions needed to implement the model.
Cameron said earlier this year that he and Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen, vice chair of the working group, met with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and SEC Chairman Jay Clayton to talk about the NAIC’s progress on the issue, according to NAIC meeting minutes.
Cameron said he and Ommen stressed the NAIC’s intention to work with federal agencies “to develop a uniform, consistent standard across all annuity product sale platforms regardless of product type.”
— Read Life Agents Should Not Face ANY Best Interest Standard: Annuity Group, on ThinkAdvisor.