NAIC Conference Call Places State Insurance Investigations On Hold

By Dave Kaiser
Insurance Journal
October 21, 2004

State insurance commissioners in the southeast and across the U.S. consulted with each other during a conference call and will soon form a steering committee to coordinate a multi-state effort to investigate whether or not rigged bids and price fixing are a major concern.

During a Wednesday conference call, initiated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), participants discussed how to handle fallout from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's investigation of rigged bids and price-fixing among commercial insurance brokers and insurance companies.

State insurance commissioners agreed, during the call, to review all facts leading up to the New York indictments before launching investigations in their states. NAIC originated the call and spearheaded an initiative aimed at sharing information and determining appropriate action.

"In light of the broadening insurance brokerage investigations taking place in New York, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and the Tennessee State Attorney General's Office are consulting to consider what actions are appropriate," said Paula Wade, communications director and a spokesperson for Insurance Commissioner Paula Flowers.

"Due to the scope of this issue we are working on a coordinated multi-state effort," Wade said. "Commissioner Flowers remains committed to assuring consumer protection and a healthy and vital insurance market in Tennessee."

All the information the North Carolina Department of Insurance has been receiving about Spitzer's efforts in New York have been on television and in newspapers, according to Chrissy Pearson, director of communications.

"At this point we are not sure what our next step is going to be, we don't feel that we have had all of the facts presented to us," Pearson said. "So far we haven't received any complaints from North Carolina consumers, nor have we seen any indication that anything wrong has been going on.

"It's early, so we have not been looking closely at this issue yet - certainly we might find some things."

Insurance Commissioner Jim Long participated in the NAIC conference call and will support an initiative to provide all state insurance commissions with information on which to base their final decisions.

"The goal of the conference call was to get all commissioners on the same page so Spitzer's allegations can be shared between states," Pearson said. "The NAIC steering committee is assembling all the facts and information from New York and have them in an easily accessible place so state insurance officials can read through it all, see what information we have and find out what is actually going on."

Tami Torres, a spokesperson for Tom Gallagher's office in Tallahassee said that Gallagher is "looking at the Spitzer suit trying to determine its impact in Florida.

"We are especially concerned about insurers that write business in Florida and the impact on the allegations to the insurance-buying public," Torres said.

2004 by Wells Publishing, Inc.

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