Correction: Obama Nominates Additional Directors But Producer Registry NARAB Still Falls Short

July 11, 2016

Correction: The original version of this article omitted two of President Obama’s nominees, Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar and Susan Louise Castaneda of The Hartford. Insurance Journal regrets the error.

President Barack Obama has nominated more individuals to sit on the governing board of a new national insurance producer licensing system. His three nominations this month bring the total of Obama’s nominations to 10, still shy of the 13 needed for the board of the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB) to operate.

The Senate has not yet acted on any of the nominations. Industry groups have been calling for the White House and Senate to move more quickly to fill the seats on the board to activate the program.

On July 7, the administration nominated two regulators and an insurance company executive:

  • John M. Huff is the director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, and is the 2016 president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). From 2006 to 2009, Huff was a managing director with The Swiss Re Group. He served two terms as a non-voting member of the U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council until 2014.
  • Robert Suglia is senior vice president and general counsel at Amica Mutual Insurance Co. in Rhode Island, a position he has held since 2008. Suglia has served on the governing committee of the auto insurance residual market organization in Massachusetts, Commonwealth Automobile Insurers and he has represented Amica on insurance industry boards and trade association committees through Amica’s membership in the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
  • Lori Wing-Heier is the director of the Division of Insurance of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development for the state of Alaska, a position she has held since 2014. From 2004 to 2013, she served as the director of Risk Management for the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. She has also served as a senior vice president for Marsh USA and an account executive for Aon Corp.’s Rollins Burdick Hunter.

In May, President Obama nominated Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar. Salazar has previously served as a regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and before that as president and chief executive officer of Valley Wide Health Systems Inc.

In April, the administration nominated independent insurance agent Angela Ripley, president of VW Brown Insurance Service in Columbia, Maryland. Ripley is also a national director for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and previously worked at Erie Insurance Group.

In March, Susan Louise Castaneda, assistant vice president and compliance officer for Operations, Technology and Data for The Hartford, was nominated. She has held numerous positions at The Hartford since 1992, including director of Property and Casualty Operations, compliance director for Personal Lines, underwriting lead for Personal Lines and underwriting manager, as well as consumer affairs positions. Prior to joining The Hartford, she workedfor Farmers Insurance and Allstate Insurance.

In January, one year after the law’s enactment, President Obama sent to the Senate the names of two state regulators, one property/casualty producer representative and one life/health producer representative for the NARAB board:

  • Raymond G. Farmer, who has bees South Carolina insurance commissioner, since 2012. For 32 years prior to that, Farmer mostly worked for the American Insurance Association (AIA), a trade group for property/casualty insurance companies, most recently serving as Southeast vice president.
  • Michael J. Rothman, who is the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which includes insurance regulation along with securities, real estate, utilities and other businesses. He was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in January 2011. Rothman serves on the executive committee of the NAIC, and is the president-elect of the North American Securities Administrators Association.
  • Thomas McLeary, of Illinois, for a term of two years. He is a founder and president of Endow Insurance Brokerage, a Chicago life insurance and benefits brokerage. In 1992, McLeary was one of four individuals who formed the Premier Network Service Group, the first national African American property/casualty and financial services firm.
  • Heather Ann Steinmiller, of Pennsylvania, general counsel with the Philadelphia insurance and benefits brokerage firm of Conner Strong & Buckelew. The 300-person brokerage has offices in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Florida.

NARAB gives agents and brokers who do business in multiple states the option of joining a national association through which they can satisfy various states’ licensing requirements through one process and portal. Participation in the NARAB is voluntary.

NARAB’s 13-member board is supposed to include eight state insurance commissioners, three individuals with expertise in property/casualty insurance and licensing, and two members with similar expertise in the life or health insurance arena.

The slow pace of nominations and the inaction by the Senate have frustrated supporters of the program who argue that NARAB will reduce costs and increase competition among insurance producers.

Last week, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) once again called on federal officials to implement the NARAB program, which was enacted as part of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 on January 12, 2015. The group of state officials who deal with insurance matters said the delay is causing “a lot of unneeded frustration” and hurting consumers.

“It is disconcerting that, 18 months after enactment and 15 months after the statutory deadline to appoint members, a sufficient number of members have not yet been appointed and confirmed so the committee can even meet,” said Commissioner Tom Considine, NCOIL CEO. “Because the Obama administration and the United States Senate have not fully acted, consumer and producer benefits remain unavailable.”

NAMIC, the insurer trade group, in a statement applauding Suglia’s nomination, also said it “strongly urges the administration to continue filling out the NARAB board and for the Senate to swiftly take up and approve these appointments.”

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