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Industry Spotlight: Nonnie S. Burnes

by ~ Susan A. Hartnett (Email) (Web Site)

Massachusetts' Former Commissioner of Insurance Nonnie S. Burnes - On The Reinsurance Regulatory Modernization Act of 2009, Managed Competition, And The Power Of The Regulatory Process

MReBA was delighted to present Nonnie Burnes, until very recently Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance, as the Keynote Speaker for MReBA’s First Annual Reinsurance Symposium. Appointed as Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance in 2007, Commissioner Burnes can lay claim to a number of notable achievements, not the least of which is her leadership role in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) as chair of its Reinsurance (E) Task Force. That Task Force is responsible for the Reinsurance Regulatory Modernization Act of 2009  proposed federal legislation that seeks to modernize reinsurance regulation by the states. Given the significance of these very new legislative developments to the reinsurance industry and reinsurance bar, Commissioner’s Burnes Keynote discussion of NAIC’s proposed legislation was both informative and timely.

This proposed legislation is based on a Framework adopted by the NAIC in December of 2008. As explained by Commissioner Burnes and previously reported in MReBA’s Summer 2009 issue, the proposed federal legislation seeks to revamp reinsurance regulation through a system that, among other things, creates a national plan and uniform standards for supervisors and reinsurers, permits single state regulation and supervision of domestic and foreign reinsurers, liberalizes collateral requirements for reinsurers with strong financial ratings and other indicia of financial strength, and simplifies the methods of dealing with foreign reinsurers and foreign jurisdictions. The NAIC’s Reinsurance (E) Task Force adopted the proposed legislation on September 15, 2009 after considering various constitutional aspects raised during the drafting and comment process, including questions concerning the relationship between the proposed Reinsurance Supervision Review Board and the federal government, and whether it is appropriate for individual states to enter into information-sharing agreements with foreign jurisdictions. On September 24, 2009, the NAIC’s Government Relations Leadership Council voted to submit the proposed bill to Congress. A strong champion for the proposed new regulatory regime, Commissioner Burnes is optimistic that the proposed bill will pass through Congress and believes that the proposed regulatory system will improve the ability of states to regulate reinsurers, and will provide participating states with economic benefits in the form of increased reinsurance capacity and, therefore, a stronger insurance industry.

The Reinsurance Regulatory Modernization Act of 2009 is not the only major regulatory challenge that Commissioner Burnes has tackled in the past few years. Her tenure as Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance was also notable for her introduction of managed competition to the auto insurance industry in Massachusetts, a departure from the prior state-set rating system, and something that many thought could not be done given the Commonwealth’s long history of rate setting. Indeed, Massachusetts was the last state in the country to move to a competitive rating system for auto insurance. As a result of the changes in the auto insurance system, in the first year of managed competition nine new insurers entered the Massachusetts auto market, agents reported increasing the number of represented insurers, and consumers' average auto premiums dropped approximately 8%, saving collectively $273 million. For the Division of Insurance Executive Summary, please click here.

These accomplishments in a relatively short period of time are all the more remarkable given that Commissioner Burnes prior professional experience as a trial judge in the Massachusetts Superior Court and as a litigator in private practice at the Boston firm of Hill & Barlow did not focus on insurance specifically, or regulatory or administrative law more generally. Her effectiveness as Commissioner was aided by an ability to look at the big picture with a fresh perspective and by her belief that one must “think systemically and look at all of the moving parts that make up an issue in order to identify and solve problems. This perspective is, perhaps, what most distinguishes her work as Commissioner from the case-by-case approach to problem-solving that characterizes the work of most litigators and judges.

Commissioner Burnes appreciation for the regulatory process has led her to her next career  that of a scholar and educator. As of October 1, 2009, Former Commissioner Burnes is a Senior University Fellow at Northeastern University in Boston, where she is developing (and this Spring will be teaching) a graduate level course on regulatory process and reform. Her two-and-a-half years as Commissioner have clearly provided her with practical first-hand knowledge of the power and mechanics of regulation, and the growing need for those engaged in regulated industries and professions  that is to say, just about everyone  to better understand what regulation is and how it is a powerful and insufficiently understood tool for improving life in modern society.
As the former Commissioner notes, the job of Commissioner of Insurance is to ensure a healthy and robust market for insurers while, at the same time, to ensure that consumers of insurance products are being provided with appropriate services and products. While these are sometimes seen as competing concerns, and the debate over issues can be contentious at times, there has been praise from the industry and consumers alike for Nonnie Burnes’s success during her tenure as Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance in striking a fair and effective balance between the industry’s and consumers needs and interests. Northeastern University is fortunate to have her join its ranks.Wearing a nice bag out with friends and carry gucci bags uk,rolex for sale,replica panerai watches and iwc replica watches to work is an amazing thing.

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