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House might consider insurance regulation reform


WASHINGTON--The U.S. House of Representatives could consider a bill that would streamline the regulation of reinsurers and nonadmitted insurers as early as next week.

The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law held a short hearing Tuesday on the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act. If the committee's leadership decides to waive jurisdiction over the bill, which has already won approval of the House Financial Services Committee, the measure could proceed to the House floor.

Among other things, the bill would create a uniform system for regulating and taxing the surplus lines insurance industry by making nonadmitted insurance subject to regulation only in a policyholder's home state. It also would give a reinsurer's state of domicile sole authority for regulating the reinsurer's solvency under most circumstances.

Tuesday's hearing "does potentially help clear the way for House enactment of the legislation," said Joel Wood, senior vp-government affairs for the Washington-based Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers. The CIAB has been one of the chief supporters of the legislation. "With a little bit of luck," the House will vote on the measure before it adjourns Sept. 29, he said.

Congress appears certain to return for a lame-duck session after the Nov. 8 elections, said Mr. Wood, and the outcome of the elections will play a key role in determining "whether it's a long lame duck or a short lame duck. It's a narrow window, but one that we're going to try to crack open."

"It may not happen in the Senate this year, but we're trying to let everybody know that this is the lowest-hanging fruit" as far as insurance regulatory reform goes, Mr. Wood said. "You're never going to have a regulatory issue on which there is as much agreement among the industry, the policyholders and the regulators."