NAII: Progress Continues on Accessing MVRS, NAFTA Should Go Forward

December 12, 2002

The Vice President of Mexico’s Insurance and Finance Commission, Manuel Calderon, told the National Association of Insurance
Commissioners (NAIC) that concerns about two proposed privacy bills in Mexico’s federal legislature were misguided because the proposals were actually expected to “broaden access to information,” not restrict it, as some had thought.

The Mexican official delivered his message to the NAIC’s Joint Meeting of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Subgroup and the TriNational Insurance Working Group this week during the NAIC Winter Meeting in San Diego.

The Bush Administration okayed the opening of selected border crossings under NAFTA on Nov. 27, but concerns were raised when it was learned that the Mexican Federal legislature was considering two separate bills on privacy. Calderon reassured the group that both privacy proposals were intended to broaden the scope of information that could be released. It is unclear when the privacy initiatives will be acted upon in the Mexican federal legislature or whether action will take place before the end of the year.

“We are encouraged by Mr. Calderon’s assessment of these privacy bills,” David Golden, National Association of Independent Insurers’ (NAII) director of commercial lines, said. ” Our concerns are that the access to motor vehicle records (MVRs) by American insurance company underwriters might be inhibited, making it difficult to offer coverage to Mexican motor carriers that seek entry into the U.S. It is a positive message to hear that this should not be the case and we look forward to additional information on the proposed Mexican laws.”

Another stumbling block to accessing MVRs has been the lack of an
operational database because a newly-created Mexican vehicle record system was not up and running. However, a report given by Marco Traslajero, director of systems and operations Mexico’s transportation department, described the new Mexican database as operational and currently holding more than 200,000 commercial driver vehicle records, including accident and violation information. According to Traslajero, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) already has access to this database, as do some other government agencies. NAFTA Subgroup Chairman Texas Commissioner Jose Montemayor suggested the group look into ways to expedite access to American insurers as soon as possible and requested that the NAFTA Subgroup address this issue.

“NAII will work with the NAFTA Subgroup and TriNational Insurance
subcommittee to help rectify this problem as quickly as possible,” Golden said.

However, another presentation by a representative from the United States DOT failed to answer the critical question about when the required on-site safety inspections of Mexican trucks could be expected. Detailing that the Congressional mandates regarding safety inspections were in place, the DOT representative acknowledged that they have not been allowed to conduct on-site inspections at the approximately 200 Mexican motor carriers’ whose U.S. DOT applications have been approved.

American trucks must have on-site inspections before getting permanent authority to operate while Congress requires that Mexican motor carriers have on-site inspections before they can get provisional authority, the first level of authority to operate.

“This has become a bigger issue then it should be. We encourage officials from Mexico and the United States to iron out any difficulties in this area. Let’s not block the NAFTA benefits when so many other components of making this happen are now finally in place,” Golden said.

NAII’s members write one third of the insurance for commercial vehicles in the United States and almost half of the insurance for private passenger auto.

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