As members of the House and Senate attempt to meld their differing takes on financial services reform in a conference committee, an assemblage of insurance associations is throwing its weight behind the Senate’s version.

The Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (S. 3217) and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 4173) each seek to substantially overhaul the rules under which financial services companies operate. While both bills call for the creation of an Office of National Insurance (ONI) housed within the Treasury Department, the details vary.

In their letter to legislators, the associations said Senate version of the ONI would be best equipped to fulfill its primary mission, representing the U.S. in negotiations with foreign nations on insurance-related matters.

“As you are aware, the U.S. insurance market does not have a representative for international matters,” the letter states. “This important function has never been more necessary. In our view, the language in S. 3217 will create an office with more clearly defined power to effectuate international agreements on prudential insurance measures.”

Specifically, the Senate version gives the ONI broader powers to preempt state insurance laws if they conflict with international agreements. “S. 3217 provides the ONI authority to exercise narrow preemption of State insurance measures in order to effectuate international regulatory agreements on prudential insurance matters under clearly defined circumstances and with appropriate due process,” the letters states. “There is also a savings provision setting forth specific State insurance measures that cannot be preempted, ensuring important consumer protections remain intact.”

Signatories of the letter include: the American Bankers Insurance Association, the American Council of Life Insurers, the American Insurance Association, the Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, European Insurance and Reinsurance Federation (CEA), Reinsurance Association of America and the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc.

 

 

 

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