WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 6, 2009 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”), testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services in a hearing titled, “Capital Markets Regulatory Reform: Strengthening Investor Protection, Enhancing Oversight of Private Pools of Capital, and Creating a National Insurance Office.”
Spencer M. Houldin, an independent agent from Connecticut, chairman of the IIABA government affairs committee, and the Connecticut representative on the IIABA Board of Directors, testified on a panel dedicated to discussion on the creation of a national insurance office on behalf of the association.
Houldin discussed the economic crisis and state insurance regulation system and urged the committee “to note that state insurance regulation has performed with distinction throughout the crisis and has greatly outshined its federal counterparts in other financial sectors.”
“IIABA has long supported state regulation of insurance, and the sensibility of that position has been reinforced and strengthened over the last year,” said Houldin. “During a tumultuous time, state insurance regulators have admirably and effectively ensured that insurers are solvent, that claims are paid, and that consumers are protected. State insurance regulation has a long and stable track record of accomplishment – especially in the areas of solvency regulation and consumer protection – but its benefits and merits have never been more apparent.”
Houldin also addressed proposals to create a federal office of insurance information.
“Although IIABA strongly supports state insurance regulation and would oppose any effort to undermine that system, we recognize the benefits that can be achieved by establishing a non-regulatory body at the federal level that is able to review industry data, advise federal officials on critical insurance issues, and coordinate efforts on international insurance matters,” said Houldin. “It is imperative, however, that any statute authorizing the establishment of an insurance information office be designed carefully and with the proper safeguards and not ‘set the stage’ for federal insurance regulation.”
Houldin added, “Therefore, any overt or subtle efforts to make the insurance office look more like a regulatory body or to set it up to become a forerunner to federal regulation would force us to vigorously oppose any such proposal.”
Houldin is president of Ericson Insurance, a Connecticut-based independent agency that offers a broad array of insurance products to consumers and commercial clients across the country.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” 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, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.