Taking the helm of his new Banking Subcommittee today, Senator Jon Tester quickly pushed to streamline the insurance licensing system and increase consumer protections.
Tester kicked off the first hearing of his new Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance and Investment by advocating for his National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Act (NARAB), which would create a non-profit membership organization to streamline the licensing process for insurance agents and brokers operating outside of their home states.
Tester, whose bill is cosponsored by the panel's Ranking Member Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), said creating a one-stop shop for licensing with a single standard would increase competition in the insurance market while improving overall market supervision.
"Membership in NARAB would streamline the licensing process for agents and brokers, enabling them to be licensed once under a single standard, saving time and money," Tester said at today's hearing. "This common sense legislation would set rigorous professional and consumer protection standards and both Senator Johanns and I want to see it signed into law."
Tester, who took control of the subcommittee earlier this year, invited Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen to testify about the bill.
"Insurance commissioners have worked for a long time to address non-resident insurance agent licensing reform," said Lindeen, who also serves as the Vice President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). "NARAB would streamline the administrative process, but not at the expense of consumer protection, state revenues, or market regulatory authority."
Tester's bill originated in the late 1990s as a way to create more consistency for agents and brokers accessing insurance markets and to increase competition and improve consumer protection. The House of Representatives has twice passed similar legislation.
Tester's subcommittee also oversees the nation's financial markets. In addition to insurance reform, Tester and Johanns will work to make sure financial markets are transparent and fair and will oversee government-sponsored housing organizations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.