QUESTION: Will the candidate who wins the Presidential election this year affect the volume of regulation in the insurance industry, and why?
“I think they will create laws and guidance and procedures that will affect the insurance industry. President Obama will do this more than anyone else. Romney understands business well enough that he will try to keep regulation out of the business world. I would hope he would reduce the amount of regulation, but he would be in his first term so I don’t think he’ll have enough clout to do that right away. Once regulations are already in place, it’s difficult to turn them around in a short time. For agents, regulation is a hindrance. It makes a lot of paperwork that’s not necessary. The goal of regulations is to protect the public, but I think we are overregulated. The public thinks they are protected by the regulations, but that’s a false pretence. It’s like putting a padlock on a back yard shed. The false pretense is the belief that no one can get into the shed because of that padlock, whereas anyone can get into the shed in just five minutes. People should take responsibility for themselves—what they are signing, doing, etc.
—Steve Fuhrman, AFLAC, Amman, Idaho
“I do believe it will have an impact. The choice is between Big Government with micro management down to the smallest detail versus Reduced Government that is more dependent on the individual person and the ideas that individuals carry forward themselves. NAIFA is all about advocacy for insurance and what we agents do for a living, and that includes (providing input on) regulation. Government regulations do impact advisors. For example, those who are also registered reps must deal with a tremendous number of regulatory requirements, and that has a huge impact on them and how they do their business. For me, compliance has a big impact. We must disclose this and disclose that. I agree that the consumer has to be educated, but the amount of disclosure can be overwhelming, because many of the disclosures are not germane to the product discussion. So the disclosure bogs it down.
– Reba Garris, State Farm-Tom Long, Suffolk, Va.
“If Obama wins, he has already put a lot of regulations on our industry — for instance, regulations via the SEC that impact advisors. Continuing education is regulated too — it’s something we have to do. Obama probably feels he is protecting people from the dishonest agent, but that’s unfortunate, because the regulations impact the honest agents too. And by the way, NAIFA’s Code of Ethics already protects the public. Because of increased regulations, everything we (agents) do involves more paper, more forms---with life insurance annuities, securities and long term care insurance. It’s gotten out of hand. Romney is a successful businessman, but I have not heard his views regarding regulation and the insurance industry. In fact, I am not sure what either candidate is going to do. But I do know that NAIFA and our lobby that goes to Capitol Hill will continue to fight for what is right.
-- Sal Bisgard, Thrivent Financial, Wawbay, S.D.