KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Feb. 15, 2008) — Sandy Praeger, President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and Kansas Insurance Commissioner, in a letter yesterday, reiterated the strengths of state-based regulation and reasserted opposition to federal legislation that would establish an optional federal charter (OFC).
A few relevant parts of the letter:
…allowing insurers to pick their regulator threatens a regulatory “race-to-the-bottom.” This scheme would be especially dangerous in property/casualty insurance, where families and businesses faced with a storm, fire, illness or injury often rely on a hands-on regulator to make insurers keep their promises and to help rebuild quickly after an unforeseen disaster. The push for an OFC is, in reality, nothing more than a call for little or no regulation.
There are presently more than 11,000 individuals working in state insurance departments across this country who help to protect insurance consumers. It takes quite an imagination to assume the Treasury Department could assume even a partial role in regulating insurance without creating a huge bureaucracy. The plain and simple truth is optional federal chartering would create a new federal bureaucracy from scratch and allow insurance companies to “opt out” of comprehensive consumer protections and state oversight. Current proposals would gut consumer protection, while outsourcing most critical regulatory functions to an industry-run self-regulatory organization.