Friday, January 24, 2014

Insurance Commissioner's 2014 legislative priorities

The 2014 legislative session started on January 13. It’s a short session, scheduled to conclude March 13.

This year, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner has two important legislative priorities.

Insurance Company Solvency (HB 2461)
We're seeking to adopt two model acts created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in response to the global financial crisis.

One, called the Holding Company Act, enhances our ability to oversee, monitor and regulate any company under a parent company or holding company system. It must be adopted by Jan. 1, 2016, or Washington state risks losing its NAIC accreditation. This model act aims to improve transparency and accountability of companies and conglomerates that own insurance companies. The legislation would also prevent firms from circumventing regulation designed to protect against financial shell games that could result in insolvency.

The other is called the Own Risk and Solvency Assessment (ORSA) Model Act and requires companies to create a plan for self-assessing and reporting their current and future financials in light of their two- to five-year business plans.

Alien Insurer State of Entry (HB 1402/SB 5489)
This bill modernizes the terms under which international insurance companies could enter the U.S. insurance market through Washington state and requires them to meet the same financial-strength standards and play by the same rules.

K-12 Data Study Funding Restoration
The Legislature passed SB 5940 in 2012, requiring our office to annually study and report on K-12 employee benefits. The original bill included an appropriation of $1.3 million, but the funding was cut last year to $300,000. Without restored funding, we cannot complete the study. This bill restores the funding to its original appropriation.

We post this information on our legislative priorities page.

Public comment on bills
The state Legislature’s website has a new feature that allows citizens to comment on bills. All comments are emailed to all state legislators. If you are interested in commenting on these bills or any others that are being considered, you can search for the bill and select “comment on this bill” next to the bill number.