Former Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson has been named chief executive officer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the organization for state insurance regulators and advocacy group for state-level insurance regulation.
Nelson will become the organization’s chief spokesperson in Washington, D.C. His responsibilities will include outreach to federal and international governmental entities, as well as state government associations, consumers and insurance industry representatives.
The Democrat is a former state insurance regulator in Nebraska, insurance company executive and executive vice president of the NAIC. Nelson termed the job a “homecoming” to NAIC and insurance issues for him.
“It is also an opportunity to advance the work of the NAIC to safeguard the insurance sector through the promotion of our outstanding regulatory framework,” Nelson said. “In my new role, I look forward to continuing our relationship with the Federal Insurance Office as well as working with state regulators on matters affecting the economy and consumers.”
Prior to retiring from the Senate in 2012 after two terms, Nelson served as governor of Nebraska from 1990-1998. He also served as executive vice president and chief of staff for the NAIC (1982-1985); director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance (1975-1975); and executive vice president and then president/CEO of the Central National Insurance Group (1977-1981).
“Senator Nelson’s impressive credentials and deep knowledge of state insurance regulation are simply unmatched,” said Jim Donelon, NAIC president and current Louisiana insurance commissioner. “His rare and valuable combination of experience in insurance and government will be a tremendous asset to our organization.”
Insurance trade groups praised the Nelson appointment.
“He has a deep understanding of the state-based U.S. regulatory system and how successful it has been in serving insurance consumers,” said David Sampson, president and CEO of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
“Sen. Nelson brings a high-level of knowledge, experience and leadership that will benefit the NAIC and the insurance marketplace,” said Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association (AIA).
Nelson was considered one of the Senate’s more conservative Democrats, although he eventually voted for the federal healthcare overhaul after insisting on various amendments and winning a special Medicaid allowance for Nebraska.
Nelson replaces NAIC Acting CEO Andrew Beal, who stepped into the role after former CEO Dr. Therese M. Vaughan left the association in November. Beal now returns to his roles as chief operating officer and chief legal counsel.