TEXAS SEEKS MEXICO ENTRY INTO REGULATOR GROUP

TEXAS SEEKS MEXICO ENTRY INTO REGULATOR GROUP

Texas continues to support Mexico's entry into the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, although the current Mexican government has yet to formally apply, a top state insurance official said during a conference here last week.

Mexico's participation in the Kansas City-based association of state insurance regulators was first sought by the Texas Insurance Department during the term of former Texas Democratic Gov. Ann Richards, said Gloria Leal, international counsel for the department. At that time, the administration of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari was in office and was interested in having a better sense of regulatory issues.However, after nine months in office, the administration of President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon has yet to seek a seat at the regulatory table, she said in an interview after addressing a trucking regulatory forum here.

Despite the lack of effort by Mr. Zedillo's insurance team at the Finance Ministry, Texas hopes Mexico will get around to joining the association. Such a move is good for Mexico and the United States, Ms. Leal said.

"American companies have a familiarity with NAIC, and therefore Mexican rules and regulations and models would be similar to ours," the department official said. "But just like we in the states are not required to adopt NAIC-model rules, it will provide a framework for uniformity and consistency, which is the goal."

Mexico probably stands to gain more than the United States, she said,

because the insurance is regulated on the state-level in the United States. U.S. companies wanting to do business in Mexico need only be in compliance with one law; while in the United States, Mexican underwriters must apply for licenses in each of the states where they want to do business. NAIC-type rules in Mexico would also lead to greater harmonization of standards, including solvency standards developed by the NAIC in 1990.

"They are in a better position to take a NAIC-model rule and apply it nationwide, whereas within the United States, each state takes a model rule and adopts it, rejects it, amends it to suit the needs of their population," Ms. Leal said.

Although Canada has not requested NAIC observer status, any overture to Mexico would likely lead to a similar invitation to Canada if there was the interest, she said.