The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
By Linda Koco
Legislation to create a national agent and broker body for multi-state non-resident licensing was introduced in both houses of Congress early this week.
This is the second time the current version of the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act (NARAB II) has been dropped into the Congressional hopper. The bill was introduced last year under the same name.
The measure would create a nonprofit board to which insurance agents and brokers could go to obtain approval to operate on a multi-state basis, according to nine trade groups that are backing the measure. In a joint letter to Congressional leaders, the associations point out that agents and brokers would need to be fully licensed in their home states in order to be a member. A panel of state regulators and industry representatives would govern the board and establish membership standards.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, and 41 co-sponsors introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives as H.R. 1064, according to the THOMAS legislative information website. The bill has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and 13 co-sponsors introduced the measure in the Senate as S.534, according to the same website. The billhas been referred to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Shortly after introduction, leaders of two industry trade groups issued statements voicing support for the measure.
Rob Smith, president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) said his association “encourages and supports this common-sense approach to eliminate the duplicative and burdensome state-by-state non-resident licensing.”
Cathy Weatherford, president and chief executive officer of Insured Retirement Institute, said: “We urge all members of Congress to support and advance this common-sense legislation to secure its promise of an improved and streamlined licensing process while retaining authority for the states to regulate the marketplace.”
Other trade groups supporting the legislation include: American Association of Managing General Agents, American Insurance Association, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices and Property Casualty Insurance Association of America.
The legislation has also received the endorsement of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), according to the letter sent to Congressional leaders by the nine trade groups.
The NAIC has been involved in efforts to streamline producer licensing for a long time. In 1996, it established the National Insurance Producer Registry, after enactment of the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, it developed the Producer Licensing Model Act in 2000 to help the states comply with Gramm-Leach-Bliley’s reciprocity provisions. NAIC later looked into other reforms and in 2012 gave its support to the Senate version of NARAB II.
The NARAB term derives from a provision in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that had called for creation of a National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers. This “NARAB,” as it then was called, was to be created if at least 29 states did not make improvements in producer-licensing uniformity and reciprocity by 2002. The states met and exceeded that bar, so the original NARAB was never created.
Linda Koco, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Linda can be reached at [email protected].
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