“Over the past 12 months, our industry has faced unprecedented challenges that have made our public policy and political advocacy efforts much harder,” National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) president Jack Ramirez said in his address to attendees of the NAII’s 57th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. “Insurance issues were on the front burner of Congress and many state legislatures this year and are likely to stay there in 2003.”
Ramirez reinforced NAIII’s position in this time of much needed advocacy on behalf of the insurance industry, a role which the NAII is willing to take on. In addition to the already existing value-added services the NAII currently offers, they’ve made several new changes to strengthen their position as an advocate for the industry.
One of these steps include NAII’s recent announcement of its affiliation with the Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC), a move that will create a much-needed alliance in efforts to better serve the needs of the California insurance market.
While Ramirez told Insurance Journal that the affiliation was originally initiated by ACIC, he added, “We were looking ourselves at how we were going to handle this greater responsibility in California. Once we saw the potential, it really made a lot of sense to us.”
NAII’s members have grown exponentially in California over recent years, now representing 51 percent of the personal lines market in the state. “From the standpoint of California companies who are members, we can really speak from the local perspective, but also we can put on our NAII hat and speak from a national perspective as to how this fits into the national landscape; what impact it will have; how other states are doing on a particular issue,” Ramirez said. “I think it permits us to really bring as lot to the table to help legislators and policymakers make the right decision.”
Any NAII members doing business in California will automatically be enrolled in the ACIC organization on behalf of the NAII. Additionally, the NAII has assumed control over ACIC’s operations, while any policy positions on California issues will be determined by ACIC members.
Ramirez added that affiliations with other states may be a possibility in the future.
The NAII worked diligently all year long to present positions on behalf of the industry for many issues, including terrorism, credit-based insurance scoring, mold, workers’ comp and countless others.
A major victory for the NAII and the industry was the exclusion of property & casualty insurers from sections of the Patriot Act which was signed into law Oct. 2001. The exemption is limited to those sections of the law aimed at detecting money-laundering schemes.
The Treasury announced the exemption on Sept. 18, 2002, and will be finalized after the expiration of a 60-day comment period to be scheduled in the next few weeks.
“The exemption, if finalized, and we expect that it will be; will save property & casualty companies and their customers tens of millions of dollars by negating the need to develop and administer costly compliance programs that would not have an iota of difference in detecting illicit financial schemes,” Ramirez stated.
In addition to the many services NAII provides, one of the most beneficial proves to be the information and research NAII compiles throughout the year. “We track thousands of bills from 50 states and Congress, report on scores of proposed and adopted regulations, undertake research projects, and prepare analyses and white papers with respect to public policy issues,” Ramirez said. “It is difficult for any company on its own to keep track of, understand, and then comply with all the requirements of this complex and constantly changing landscape.”
The NAII is prepared to serve the industry on the many issues that will remain prevalent in the new year. “We have a lot of issues that are not clearly understood by the policymakers, so it’s very challenging,” Ramirez added.
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