Industry anticipates NARAB passageNews added by Benefits Pro on August 6, 2014

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By Dan Cook

Capitol Hill sources are still holding their breath a bit on this one, but a growing consensus of insurance lobbyists and analysts believe the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB) is about to become reality.

The movement to create the property/casualty association began two decades ago. The idea was to make it easier to monitor and oversee the industry while at the same time loosening some regulations that were no longer relevant to today's marketplace, e.g., agent and client must live in the same state to do business together.

Attempts to piggyback a bill creating the association onto larger pieces of legislation hadn't worked out in the past. But now, with both House and Senate NARAB advocates having included it in the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, supporters may be even more than cautiously optimistic that NARAB's birth is imminent.

It had been hoped the reauthorization bill, with NARAB on board, would be passed by Congress before the July 4 break. That didn't happen, as debate continued over the terrorism reinsurance portion of the legislation.

Another stumbling block: The House and Senate inked slightly different versions of the NARAB authorization bill. That, sources indicate, is now being worked out. Meantime, members of Congress are closer to agreement on the terrorism language.

NARAB has broad support within the insurance industry. Cathy Weatherford, CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute, typifies that support. Recently, she was moved to express optimism about the creation of NARAB after all the years of waiting.

“It’s clear there is tremendous support in Congress for passing NARAB II this year,” she wrote in mid-July. “This commonsense legislation promises to streamline the insurance licensing process for financial professionals operating in multiple states and will help ensure that clients have access to a full suite of retirement income strategies without forcing their advisors to overcome the burden of redundant insurance licensing requirements. … IRI will remain committed to working with policymakers to remove any and all barriers that may impede the availability and usage of lifetime income strategies, and we will continue to work with congressional leaders to advance NARAB II this year.”

John Nichols, president, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, also sounded optimistic about NARAB's future when the Senate overwhelmingly passed the terrorism reinsurance bill in late July.

“While leaders in the House continue discussion over the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), it is our hope they will be able to pass something in the near future so the House and Senate can finalize both TRIA and NARAB this year,” he said.

“We're very confident we'll get it through this session,” Bernie Heinze of the American Association of Managing General Agents, told He said that he was “confident” the bill would pass this year.

What's next? Passage of the Senate version of TRIA puts the House on the spot. Members can adopt the Senate version, move on the House version reported by the Financial Services Committee, HR 4871, or negotiate a hybrid with the Senate. In any case, most industry experts think this time NARAB will have attached itself to a winning piece of legislation.

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