The shifting regulatory sands and the need for the industry to exert its influence to shape outcomes is a recurring theme at National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) 115th Annual Convention in San Diego.
Kicking off the conference, NAMIC Chairman John Hill II, noted that in many ways the industry was at a crossroads. Despite the fact that the insurance industry was largely successful in avoiding new regulatory strictures birthed in the wake of the financial crisis, Hill urged the fight was not over.
“When it comes to federal and state lawmaking, constant vigilance is the new normal,” Hill said. “We need a persistent and principled legislative effort.”
Indeed, NAMIC President and CEO Charles Chamness noted that in the last year the association helped defeat 80 separate bills restricting the use of credit scoring in 27 states. “It’s not going away,” he said. “We may win the battle, but the same war continues.
Chamness said insurers need to gird themselves for more change, noting that with many states likely to elect new governors, new insurance commissioners also are likely to be appointed.
One ongoing issue of concern for NAMIC: The press to create an optional federal charter for insurers seems likely to reappear in the next Congress irrespective of the party in charge. Accepting the award for Federal Legislator of the Year, Rep. Scott Garrett (R–N.J.) warned that establishment of additional levels of federal oversight would not serve the industry or consumers well.
“I have serious concerns about efforts to legislative insurance at the federal level,” Garrett said, via a recorded video message.
The state of regulatory flux is indicative of the larger unease in the business world, said keynote speaker and best-selling business writer Jim Collins. “Uncertainty will remain,” he said. “Welcome to the rest of our lives.”
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