NAIC GARNERS SUPPORT FROM CONSUMER GROUP

NAIC GARNERS SUPPORT FROM CONSUMER GROUP

The Consumer Federation of America supported the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on its accreditation stance, cautioning against ''weakening" the program for state insurance departments.

J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the federation and former Texas insurance commissioner, said during a public hearing in Philadelphia that ''attacks" on the NAIC from such groups as the National Association of Independent Insurers "should carry little weight.""We support state regulation in a manner and a degree to which J. Robert Hunter never has. Hunter took issue with the NAII for advocating a return to advisory committees. That is an insult not to the NAII but to the NAIC," said Bob Zeeman, vice president with NAII.

Mr. Zeman said that Mr. Hunter believed that returning to a system of advisory committees would put the NAIC back in the hands of the industry.

"We reject that notion," he said. "Whether input from consumers or industry comes from individuals or advisory committees the regulators are always free to accept or reject that advice."

Meanwhile, the American Insurance Association released a statement once again calling for a review of national solvency standards to eliminate what they called "unduly burdensome requirements." The NAIC accreditation standards, developed since 1989, are a series of model laws, regulations and practices that regulators believe all states should have.

While Lee Douglass, NAIC president, said that the comments heard were encouraging, several insurance associations called for the program to take a new direction, veering away from a methodology that required all states to pass effectively identical laws and regulations for accreditation.

"In November 1994, the election results nationwide showed that the public was, among other things, upset with the level of unnecessary governmental intrusion into the affairs of the people," said Philip L. Schwartz, vice president of the AIA. "It is appropriate for the NAIC to examine whether the standards currently in place are applicable directly to solvency and are truly base line in nature."

Mr. Douglass countered that "the accreditation program works. This is borne out by the fact that the level of solvency regulation has been raised in every state."

"After five years, we're taking this opportunity to review the program in order to measure its success and define its future. Now is the time to examine whether we want to remodel," Mr. Douglass continued.

The regulators received input from 10 industry trade organizations, with many expressing general support for the program.

The accreditation program was established to answer concerns about solvency of insurance companies, which reached a peak with a report in February 1990 called "Failed Promises" by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. The report deemed that several areas of state insurance regulation were deficient.