July 13, 2009

Consumers get better insurance protection, products under bill signed by Gov. Nixon

Jefferson City, Mo. - A new law will give Missouri consumers better access and better protections when they buy annuities and life, long-term care and disability insurance. Gov. Jay Nixon has signed House Bill 577, which makes Missouri a member of the Interstate Insurance Compact. The compact is a partnership among state insurance regulators that reviews insurance policies, ensuring they meet certain standards before they are sold to consumers.

Because insurers will now be able to file their forms with one regulator, the review and approval process will be faster and more efficient, allowing quality insurance products to be available sooner to Missouri consumers. Also, because the central partnership group will handle policy review and approval, Missouri and other partner states will be able to focus on enforcement and consumer protection.

"For consumers, insurance companies and regulators, the Interstate Insurance Compact maximizes technologies and efficiencies that are available to us," said John M. Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP). "Because there is no longer a need to file identical documents in multiple states, our department will see a reduction in unnecessary paperwork, and consumers will have quality insurance products available to them faster."

As department director Huff will represent Missouri on the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission, the group that oversees the insurance compact. With its membership in the compact, regulation under Missouri insurance laws will remain as strong as ever: The Department of Insurance will play a role in deciding the standards that will be enforced under the compact, and the department has the right to opt out of any standard it finds unacceptable. Consumer advocate groups will also be involved in developing standards, including AARP and the Center for Insurance Research.

Insurers with questions about the compact and its implications for form filing can contact the Market Regulation Division of the Department of Insurance at 573-751-4363 or insurance.mo.gov. The Interstate Insurance Compact was created in 2004 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which consists of insurance regulators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several U.S. territories. More information is available at insurancecompact.org.