BIG “I” APPLAUDS OXLEY SPEECH ON REGULATORY REFORM
Strongly supports “road map” proposed by Oxley in Sunday remarks
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 15—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) is giving its strong support to a proposal presented by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) on comprehensive insurance regulatory reform, says Big “I” CEO Robert A. Rusbuldt.
In his speech, delivered at a meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) yesterday, Oxley outlined a sweeping reform plan, developed with Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee Chairman Richard H. Baker (R-La.). The Oxley-Baker proposal would modernize the current state-based regulatory system while retaining the benefits of state regulation currently enjoyed by consumers.
“The Big 'I' believes the proposal outlined by Chairman Oxley will create a more efficient and effective regulatory system for both consumers and the industry,” says Rusbuldt. “We are especially heartened that the chairman made clear that his proposal includes no plans for a federal regulator or for optional federal chartering. Big ‘I’ members strongly believe the current system needs to be streamlined and improved, but not supplanted or paralleled.”
In his remarks, Chairman Oxley noted six particular problems on which the “road map” focuses. These include the need for more efficient and effective product reviews; continued improvement in agent licensing with an eye toward reciprocal licensing in all jurisdictions and greater uniformity; the need to streamline company licensing; the need for more effective and coordinated market conduct oversight; elimination of price controls that reduce competition and consumer choice; and the need for a federal-state partnership to coordinate insurance policy and promote uniformity.
Oxley proposed a “middle-ground” approach using targeted federal legislation to reform the state-based insurance regulatory system. Such an approach would preserve state oversight through enactment of federal standards and other federal tools. IIABA has been advocating a similar approach for some time.
Chairman Oxley made it clear that his committee is not contemplating an optional federal charter and will not create a federal regulator. The Big “I” strongly supports this middle-ground solution as a means of achieving greater uniformity and reciprocity without creating an expansive, invasive federal bureaucracy.
“This proposal articulated by Chairman Oxley is in line with the Big ‘I’ philosophy on insurance regulation,” says Charles E. Symington Jr., IIABA senior vice president of federal government affairs. “The proposed plan will vastly improve the state oversight system while retaining its best features. It will accomplish these necessary reforms without creating a costly, ‘one-size-fits-all’ federal bureaucracy. IIABA will work diligently on the Hill and within the industry to mobilize support for this plan.”
A hearing on the Oxley-Baker plan by the Capital Markets Subcommittee is planned for the end of March.
Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.