Insurance Bills Await Return of Congress
Now that the conventions are over, Congress is preparing to reopen on Monday for the last few remaining weeks of this year’s session, which is jammed with unfinished business, business that includes several significant insurance bills.
One of the major bills is the Office of Insurance Information (OII) Act, HR 5840. A subcommittee proposed this bill in July. Through this bill the office within the Department of Treasury is established, that is to disseminate data issue reports with regard to all lines of insurance (the exception being health insurance), create federal policy on international insurance matters and make sure that state insurance laws are in line with the United States’ international agreements. In addition to making it possible for the federal government to keep an eye on insurance, the law would also allow the Office of Insurance the authority to supplant state authority when conflicts may occur in regard to international agreements and practices.
There are those who view this bill as needed in order to maintain consistency, while some others are calling it door to letting in the intrusion of federal regulation. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., has already given the bill considerable support. Senator Dodd is the Senate banking committee chairman. He sees this bill as a good initial step toward bring in the reform that the industry needs.
The proposal also has received support from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Under the bill, much to the dismay of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners would hold a seat at the advisory table.
In addition the bill has become a go-to for those backing the Optional Federal Charter, designed to create a federal regulatory system that would co-exist along with the traditional state system. It is unlikely however, that the OFC will make it through.
The National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act of 2008, is another proposal that has been around. It was approved by a subcommittee in March. This bill, HR 5611, would set up the association as a nonprofit corporation with the function of making available requirements for licensing, as well as ongoing education and other insurance producer qualifications on a multi-state basis. It would still however, allow states to license, direct and discipline insurance producers. Laws would still be prescribed and enforced and regulated by the states with regard to insurance-related consumer protection and unfair trade practices. The bill does affirm however, that the association would pre-empt state actions.