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The NAIC's new CEO receives praise, likely focused on retirement products

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The NAIC's new CEO receives praise, likely focused on retirement products

Michael Consedine, the incoming CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, failed to identify precise priorities for the organization but is expected to focus on retirement security and the role of insurance for the aging population.

Missouri Insurance Director John Huff, the NAIC president serving through the end of this year, said retirement security products are vitally important "as we kick-start this portion of the industry." He referenced Consedine's expertise in retirement products coverage and consumer preparedness through his work at AEGON NV, where he is senior vice president and global head of government and policy affairs. He is expected to take the reins of the NAIC in late January 2017.

"Mike brings valuable experience and energy to this role during a time of transition with a new administration and Congress," Huff said in a prepared statement. "He is highly respected by members of the NAIC and served this body with distinction when he was Pennsylvania's Insurance Commissioner." Huff referenced Consedine's experience heading key committees, including the NAIC's high-profile International Insurance Relations Committee.

Industry representatives and sources roundly cheered the choice, which culminated after a search firm was selected in late August at the previous NAIC national meeting.

Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association, said Consedine "brings to the position a deep understanding of the state-based insurance regulatory system along with a record of thoughtful leadership on international insurance issues. Throughout his tenure as Pennsylvania Commissioner, he worked at ensuring that a proper balance was struck between regulating insurers and representing the best interests of policyholders."

Longtime consumer advocate Birny Birnbaum, executive director of the Center for Economic Justice, said that "CEJ congratulates Mike Consedine on becoming NAIC CEO. We have seen Mike utilize his extensive experience and quest for informed policymaking in the past and look forward to working with him and the NAIC as they actively solicit and consider consumer as well as other stakeholders' views and concerns on the many issues facing the state-based insurance regulatory system in 2017 and beyond."

Consedine and NAIC President Huff spoke on a retirement readiness forum panel sponsored by the Insured Retirement Institute at the NAIC fall meeting in Miami on Dec. 10. The two also took part in a press conference moments earlier, when Consedine was named the next CEO of the NAIC. Consedine said the tax reforms planned by the incoming presidential administration would be a "huge driver" in getting consumers to save for retirement. He said reforms could have a critical impact on annuities and other retirement products.

Consedine also raised the need for education on retirement security products like annuities with guaranteed income for retirees, referencing not only members of Congress, but state legislators and even state regulators.

Consedine told reporters that there are domestic opportunities for state insurance regulation, saying it is time for the states to "re-engage" with Europe and Asia on global supervisory issues. Many international workstreams are underway, including work on controversial global insurance capital rules, solvency, group oversight and reinsurance collateral. He referenced the "dynamic environment" in the changing government landscape and said "the playbook has been rewritten."

There are many regulatory issues in flux that Consedine will face as the new NAIC CEO, including the planned changes and repeal of the Affordable Care Act, potential reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, state guaranty fund structures, cybersecurity, the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule, the Federal Reserve Board's domestic capital rules and the Financial Stability Oversight Council's systemic risk discussions. Insurers’ use of data mining or "big data," long-term care pricing, auto insurance availability, and auto insurance rates are ongoing domestic issues on which NAIC member regulators will seek leadership from a new CEO.

Consedine said at the IRI forum, speaking still as AEGON's global head of government and policy affairs, that regulators need to play a little catch up in the area of data mining.

The terms of Consedine’s contract with the NAIC were not disclosed because they are still being worked out, both parties said. Consedine, who rose through the NAIC ranks to an officer position while he was serving as Pennsylvania insurance commissioner, sent in his resignation to AEGON shortly before the announcement, he said, noting that it is effective toward the end of January.

Like the previous NAIC CEO before him, former Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, Consedine will be based in Washington. Nelson is serving as a consultant until January, after stepping down in January 2016.