RESOLUTION FAVORING CONTINUED STATE-BASED INSURANCE CONSUMER PROTECTION

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1 RESOLUTION FAVORING CONTINUED STATE-BASED INSURANCE CONSUMER PROTECTION NCSL STANDING COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS, FINANCIAL SERVICES & INTERSTATE COMMERCE WHEREAS, the states have sole regulatory authority for the regulation of the business of insurance as provided under the McCarran-Ferguson Act, and affirmed most recently by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act; and WHEREAS, state insurance regulation has been successful and effective for over 150 years, continuously adapting to address an ever-changing marketplace; and WHEREAS, the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) supports the continued state regulation of the business of insurance, and opposes proposals to create a federal insurance regulator or an optional federal charter (OFC); and WHEREAS, state unfair trade practice and other laws, as well as guaranty funds, provide protections for insurance consumers, individually and collectively; and WHEREAS, state taxpayer-supported insurance departments currently provide services to aid and educate consumers on insurance; and WHEREAS, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) maintains a Consumer Information Source (CIS) for consumers to use before purchasing insurance, providing access to key information about insurance companies, including: closed insurance complaints, licensing information, and financial data, as well as a means to file written complaints with the relevant state insurance department, and similar capabilities exist on many individual state insurance department web sites; and WHEREAS, state insurance commissioners and department personnel are more familiar with their own state laws, judicial rulings, and local market issues; and

2 WHEREAS, state insurance departments conduct market conduct exams far more frequently than their federal banking counterparts; and WHEREAS, state insurance commissioners are either elected or directly accountable to an elected Governor and Legislature, and are thus generally more responsive than a larger federal bureaucracy; and WHEREAS, there is no need for an extra federal taxpayer-supported bureaucratic layer of redundant regulation; and WHEREAS, the Financial Product Safety Commission Act of 2009 was introduced this spring as companion legislation S. 566 in the U.S. Senate by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Charles Schumer (D-NY),and as H.R in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen William Delahunt (D-MA) and Brad Miller (D-NC); and WHEREAS, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D- MA) introduced H.R. 3126, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act, a recommendation by President Barack Obama, on July 8; and WHEREAS, S. 566/H.R and H.R would establish a federal Financial Product Safety Commission and a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, respectively, with authority over consumer financial products; and WHEREAS, while intending to address predatory consumer financial products, S. 566 and H.R include a definition of Consumer Financial Product, and other provisions, that could be interpreted to extend the scope of the Financial Product Safety Commission over insurance products; and WHEREAS, while H.R contains a provision that reaffirms the McCarran- Ferguson Act, and, thus, state regulation over the business of insurance, S. 566 omits such language; and WHEREAS, H.R exempts the business of insurance except for credit, mortgage, and title insurance from its definition of Financial Activity; and THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that NCSL believes that the protection of insurance consumers should continue to be based exclusively at the state level; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any Financial Product Safety Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Agency, or similar new or existing federal agency should not have direct or indirect jurisdiction over insurance products - including credit, mortgage, and title insurance - and/or insurance-related matters; and

3 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NCSL believes that S. 566 /H.R and H.R should be amended to explicitly exclude all insurance products and insurance-related matters from the scopes of the Financial Product Safety Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, respectively; and BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution shall be sent to state legislative leaders, Congressional sponsors of S. 566, H.R and H.R. 3126, and Members of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services and the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Adopted by the NCSL Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee, July 21, Passed the full NCSL Business Meeting, July 23, 2009.

4 RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO H.R THE NATIONAL INSURANCE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT NCSL STANDING COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS, FINANCIAL SERVICES & INTERSTATE COMMERCE WHEREAS, insurance regulation, oversight, and consumer protection have traditionally and historically been powers reserved to state governments under the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945; and WHEREAS, state legislatures are more responsive to the needs of their constituents and the need for insurance products and regulation to meet their state s unique market demands; and WHEREAS, many states have recently enacted and amended state insurance laws to modernize market regulation and provide insurers with greater ability to respond to changes in market conditions; and WHEREAS, state legislatures, NCSL, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) continue to address uniformity issues between states by the adoption of model laws that address market conduct, product approval, agent and company licensing, and rate deregulation; and WHEREAS, initiatives are being contemplated by certain members of the United States Congress that would destroy the state system of insurance regulation and create an expensive, unwieldy and inaccessible federal bureaucracy all without consumer demand; and WHEREAS, such initiatives include H.R the National Insurance Consumer Protection Act proposed optional federal charter legislation that would bifurcate insurance regulation; and WHEREAS, H.R would result in a quagmire of federal and state directives that would promote ambiguity and confusion; and

5 WHEREAS, H.R would allow companies to opt out of state oversight and evade important state consumer protections; and WHEREAS, the mechanism set up under H.R does not, and cannot by its very nature, respond, as state regulation does, to states individual and unique insurance markets and constituent concerns; and WHEREAS, H.R would compromise state guaranty fund coverage, and employers could end up absorbing losses otherwise covered by these safety nets for businesses affected by insolvencies; and WHEREAS, many state governments derive general revenue dollars from the regulation of the business of insurance, including over $14 billion in premium taxes generated in 2006; and WHEREAS, H.R would eventually draw premium tax revenue from the states; and WHEREAS, H.R would ultimately impose the costs of a needless federal bureaucracy upon businesses and the public; NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures opposes H.R and any other such federal legislation in successive Congresses that would threaten the power of state legislatures, governors, insurance commissioners, and attorneys general to oversee, regulate, and investigate the business of insurance, and to protect consumers; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be made available in model form to each state legislature for its consideration; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be printed and forwarded to members of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services. Adopted by the NCSL Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee, July 21, Passed the full NCSL Business Meeting, July 23, 2009.

6 RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO THE ADMINISTRATION'S PROPOSED PLANS FOR A FEDERAL OFFICE OF NATIONAL INSURANCE NCSL STANDING COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS, FINANCIAL SERVICES & INTERSTATE COMMERCE WHEREAS, the Administration s Financial Regulatory Reform Report states, For over 135 years, insurance has primarily been regulated by the states, which has led to a lack of uniformity and reduced competition across state and international boundaries, resulting in inefficiency, reduced product innovations, and higher costs to consumers; and, WHEREAS, the Administration Report states, Given the importance of a healthy insurance industry to the well functioning of our economy, it is important that we establish a federal office of National Insurance (ONI) within the Treasury, and that we develop a modern regulatory framework for insurance; and WHEREAS, the Administration's proposal would grant the ONI the ability to monitor all aspects of the insurance industry, including gathering information, identifying insurance-related regulatory gaps, and have the authority to enter into international agreements and increase international cooperation in regards to insurance regulation; and WHEREAS, the Administration further recommends increased national uniformity through either a federal charter or effective action by states, "as our current insurance regulatory system is highly fragmented, inconsistent, and inefficient; and WHEREAS, the Administration Report fails to provide any evidence showing that state regulation of the business of insurance has led to or even contributed to the current financial crisis; and WHEREAS, the Administration Report proposes that the ONI would have the authority to negotiate foreign agreements concerning insurance without any assurance that state insurance laws and regulations would be maintained;

7 WHEREAS, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has consistently supported the state regulation of the business of insurance; and WHEREAS, NCSL acknowledges the responsibility of states to adjust state systems to meet the needs of the modern economy; however, any changes to the current framework must preserve state flexibility and authority to meet the goals of modernization. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCSL opposes the Administration's proposal to establish a federal Office of National Insurance within the Treasury Department. Adopted by the NCSL Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee, July 21, Passed the full NCSL Business Meeting, July 23, 2009.

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