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House acts to streamline insurance regulation

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WASHINGTON--The House of Representatives last week approved a bill that would streamline the regulation of reinsurers and surplus lines insurers.

The 417-0 vote in favor of the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act came early Wednesday evening. 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 the policyholders' home states (see box).

William Newton, president of the Kansas City, Mo.-based National Assn. of Professional Surplus Lines Offices Ltd., issued a statement calling the vote "an important milestone toward ultimately improving the operation and regulation of the surplus lines market."

Frank Nutter, president of the Washington-based Reinsurance Assn. of America, called the House passage a "clear sign that there is traction in having federal legislation to improve reinsurance regulation."

"It's a historic moment; it's the next critical step in insurance regulatory reform," said Joel Wood, senior vp-government affairs for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers in Washington. "This is the first pure insurance regulatory reform that either house has approved since 1999.

Sooner or later this is going to be enacted," he said.

No companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate yet.