Friday, March 27, 2009

NAPSLO Optimistic About NRRA Passage After Capitol Hill Visit

NAPSLO leaders said they were optimistic about passage of the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act (NRRA) after more than 20 NAPSLO representatives visited with Members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Tuesday to discuss surplus lines issues.

During the meetings, NAPSLO representatives spoke with Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), who along with Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), plan on introducing a version of NRRA. The visits were part of NAPSLO’s fourth annual “Day on the Hill” and members representing NAPSLO brokers and insurers met with almost all Members or staff on the Senate Banking Committee, and also with Leadership on the House Financial Services Committee.

"With the leadership of Senators Bayh and Martinez on surplus lines reform, there is tremendous hope that this important piece of legislation will pass," said NAPSLO President John Wood. “This bill was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives the past two sessions and based our discussions with Senators and Representatives this week we are encouraged that the bill will be introduced and passed by Congress.”

The Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act (NRRA) is aimed specifically at streamlining and reducing barriers in state regulation of surplus lines insurance and reinsurance. It would create a uniform system, while preserving the role of the state regulator.

“We believe this bill will solve a number of regulatory problems by establishing federal standards for state regulation, while retaining the state regulation that avoided many of the problems seen in the recent crisis,” said NAPSLO Executive Director Richard Bouhan. “The bill enjoys broad support within the industry and we look forward to its passage.”

In February, Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS) and Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) of the House Committee on Financial Services announced that they would take the lead in introducing the NRRA in the House. The NRRA is similar to bills passed by the House in the 109th and 110th Congress. The NRRA was also introduced in the Senate in the 110th Congress and the Senate Banking Committee discussed the bill in a hearing on insurance regulation in July of 2008. Chairman Dodd indicated his intent to move the bill at last summer's hearing but the financial crisis prevented further consideration of the bill by the Senate in 2008.

“We are encouraged by our discussions with Members of Congress and believe the bill has a good chance to be approved,” said Maria Berthoud of B&D Consulting, which represents NAPSLO in Washington. Berthoud added “the new leadership of Senator Bayh has given the bill added momentum."

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