BIG “I” ENDORSES OXLEY-BAKER “ROAD MAP”
Sends letter of support to Oxley and Baker on their blueprint for regulatory reform
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 29—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) today expressed strong support for Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) and Rep. Richard Baker’s (R-La.) “road map” on insurance regulatory reform in a letter sent to the lawmakers today.
Oxley on March 14 outlined a reform plan, developed with Baker, which would modernize the current state-based regulatory system while retaining the benefits of state regulation currently enjoyed by consumers.
Their middle-ground proposal is similar to the Big “I” philosophy on regulatory reform. For more than two years, IIABA has strongly advocated reforming the system within the framework of the existing state regulatory framework, while opposing a federal regulator and optional federal chartering.
Baker is chairman of the Financial Services Committee’s Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee, which will begin working on the bill this week with a hearing at which IIABA will be testifying.
Today’s letter, signed by IIABA CEO Robert A. Rusbuldt and IIABA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Charles E. Symington Jr., relayed the association’s strong support for the “thoughtful and reasoned reforms” proposed by Oxley and Baker.
“IIABA strongly supports the state-friendly vision of regulatory reform that has been outlined, and we believe this pragmatic conceptual framework for reform offers the best hope for enhancing insurance regulation,” Rusbuldt and Symington wrote. “The targeted use of federal legislative tools can bring about meaningful changes in those areas of regulation most in need of updating—licensing, product review and market conduct oversight—while maintaining high standards of consumer protection and without undermining the state system.
“The Financial Services Committee has thoroughly examined the deficient aspects of insurance regulation over the last three years, and we commend you for taking the next step and developing a responsible plan for action that offers the promise of true state-based reform,” Rusbuldt and Symington continued. “By stepping forward with this pragmatic blueprint and removing the unrealistic option of federal regulation from the table, all interested parties can now focus on modernizing the insurance marketplace in a manner that truly benefits consumers. Your roadmap is an excellent starting point for the discussions that will now follow, and we look forward to working with you and others to further refine the objectives outlined in the blueprint and to identify the most appropriate legislative mechanisms for achieving those goals.”
In addition to testifying at this week’s hearing, IIABA is preparing its members to personally lobby in support of the Oxley-Baker proposal when more than 900 independent insurance agents and brokers are in Washington the week of April 19 for their annual National Legislative Conference. “As the most important issue confronting the industry today on Capitol Hill, our members will be voicing their support for the Oxley-Baker proposal and will be urging their elected Congressional representatives to support the measure as well,” said Rusbuldt.
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.