WASHINGTON, D.C., March 23, 2010 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) today thanked the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for including an extremely important amendment for insurance agents and brokers during the committee’s consideration of a manager’s amendment to the “Restoring America’s Financial Stability Act.” The amendment, filed by Senator Tester (D-Mont.), clarifies that the definition of “insurer” for mandatory data collection does not include insurance agents and agencies. The final bill passed the committee along party lines by a vote of 13 to 10.
“Without this amendment, the proposed Office of National Insurance (ONI) would have inadvertently had the ability to require countless agents and brokers to produce any data and information demanded by ONI,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “This amendment is critical to all agents and brokers across the country, and the Big ‘I’ greatly appreciates the hard work of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)."
The underlying bill contains 11 titles, one of which would create the ONI within the U.S. Treasury Department to address the following two major areas that have been the focus of criticisms of state insurance regulation:
1. The lack of a knowledge base or informational source in Washington, D.C. (something especially evident following the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina); and
2. The challenges state insurance regulators occasionally face to effectively represent the United States in multilateral insurance discussions or to enter into binding international agreements.
“While the Big ‘I’ believes that the state regulatory system should be preserved and reformed, it has become evident that the state system needs assistance to effectively address some inefficiencies that exist today in the regulation of insurance,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government affairs. “The Big ‘I’ has long supported the use of targeted federal legislation to help reform the state system without creating a federal regulator, and we believe this insurance informational office adheres to these principles.”
Also included in this legislation, and supported by the Big “I,” is the “Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act,” which aims to streamline the regulation of surplus lines insurance and reinsurance through state-based reforms.
Almost 500 amendments were filed in anticipation of the markup, but none were offered except for the manager's amendment. Many other amendments could come up during consideration on the Senate floor. The Big “I” is encouraged by the progress made in revising the bill to date and looks forward to working with members of the Banking Committee as this bill is further refined and improved such as the resolution mechanism’s inappropriate application to property casualty insurers and some issues with duplicity between the ONI and a newly created Office of Financial Research.
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.
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