“Regulation of the insurance industry in South Carolina is best handled by the Department of Insurance in Columbia, not a federal department of insurance in the District of Columbia,” said Gov. Mark Sanford (R) as he announced the kickoff of a national grassroots campaign aimed at defeating efforts to establish federal oversight of insurers.
According to the Alliance of American Insurers, the governor gave his support to a coalition of South Carolina-based insurance companies and agents who have pledged their resources to maintain the 130 year-old system of state-based regulation in this country.
South Carolina is the first state to initiate the ASSURE program (Alliance for Sound State Uniform Regulatory Efficiency) that was created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to educate state and federal lawmakers, business leaders, and consumers about the advantages of state regulation and the problems associated with federal oversight of the insurance industry.
“South Carolina has been at the forefront of modernizing our regulatory system and making it more efficient to the benefit of consumers and insurers alike,” said Insurance Director Ernst Csiszar, who is also vice president of the NAIC. “If those in the insurance industry who are pushing to rid themselves of state regulation are successful, it would undermine our system of consumer protections and fiscal oversight and, at the same time, cost the state jobs, taxes, fees and other revenues related to the industry.”
“Insurance is a major industry in the state with nearly 25,000 people employed in the business earning over $880 million last year,” said Gov. Sanford. “The industry paid over $108 million in premium taxes alone. Placing regulation in the hands of the federal government would almost certainly have a negative impact on the state’s economy.”
The Alliance of American Insurers, a national trade association representing more than 340 property/casualty insurers, has put together an industry coalition to support the grassroots campaign. Among those participating are the Independent Insurance Agents of SC, the Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) of SC, and the SC Captive Insurance Association. Alliance member companies based in South Carolina include the Canal Group, Capital City Insurance Co., Companion Property and Casualty Group, Seibels Bruce Group, South Carolina Farm Bureau Group, and the Southern Mutual Church Insurance Group.
“While we may not always agree with what comes out of state regulation, we believe the states are much better qualified than the federal government to oversee the financial stability of insurers operating in their jurisdictions and to act in the best interest of both the insurer and the consumer,” said Alliance president Rodger S. Lawson, Ph.D.
NAIC President Mike Pickens congratulated South Carolina on being the first state to undertake the ASSURE campaign. “We hope this effort will persuade other states to quickly move forward so that we can put an end to the federal regulation movement once and for all.”