At a hearing in June before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Joseph J. Gasper, president and COO of Nationwide Financial Services Inc., gave a telling example of the regulatory hurdles insurers face when trying to launch new products.It went like this: Nationwide had developed a new annuity last year for contract owners interested in market timing. The Columbus, Ohio-based insurer filed countrywide for product approval, but seven months later, approval was still pending in five states-four of which were major markets for the new product.

"You may be saying to yourself, approval in over 40 states in seven months is not that bad," Gasper told the subcommitte. But "the truth is, to sell this product on a national basis and still comply with individual state requirements, Nationwide had to create 35 separate, state-specific contracts."

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