The Big “I” testified this week before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investments at a hearing titled, “Streamlining Regulation, Improving Consumer Protection and Increasing Competition in Insurance Markets.”
Jon Jensen, an independent agent from South Carolina and Big “I” Government Affairs Committee chairman, represented the association. He is president of Correll Insurance Group, headquartered in Spartanburg, S.C. Jensen was one of only two industry witnesses to testify at the hearing.
The hearing discussed S.534, the “National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act of 2013” (NARAB II), which the Big “I” strongly supports and is also pending in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1155). The bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate by subcommittee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) with 12 additional original cosponsors.
NARAB II would build upon regulatory experience at the state level, promote consistency in agent and agency licensing and improve marketplace responsiveness. The legislation would provide for streamlined nonresident insurance agent and broker licensing, while preserving state insurance regulation and consumer protections.
“The foundation of state regulation remains strong and offers considerable benefits, but the difficult truth is that sufficient progress on producer licensing reform and similar marketplace access issues has not been achieved,” Jensen said. “The need for effective licensing reform is greater than ever.”
Jensen further discussed how the Big “I” is an advocate for reforming state insurance regulation and continues to oppose federal regulation. However, the association believes there is a vital role for Congress to play in helping to modernize state regulation through targeted and limited federal legislation.
In addition to his testimony, Jensen fielded numerous questions from Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Johanns about the effect NARAB II would have on consumers, producers and the insurance market.
In response to a question from Chairman Tester regarding the specific impact on consumers, Jensen replied: “In addition to heightened consumer protections in many states, this legislation would also benefit consumers by easing their access to insurance markets.”
Jensen’s full testimony is available online along with additional hearing testimony and information.
NARAB II has previously passed the full House in two previous Congresses by voice vote. It also received strong bipartisan and bicameral support in the 112th Congress.
John Prible is Big “I” vice president of federal government affairs.