- The NAIC represents all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories, working to act in the best interests of insurance consumers.
- The NAIC provides a complaint index score for insurers. It indicates whether a company has an above or below average number of consumer complaints.
- The NAIC provides lists of the leading insurers by product line to help consumers select the best companies from which to purchase financial products.
What Does the NAIC Do?
The NAIC is a member-driven organization that sets the standards in the insurance industry and supports state insurance commissioners. Their main regulatory goals are to protect the public interest, promote competitive markets, facilitate equality, promote reliability and improve state regulation.
The NAIC represents all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The NAIC achieves its mission through peer reviews, analytics, market data and collaboration among task forces, working groups and state insurance commissioners.
- State Insurance Regulation
- The NAIC’s state-based system brings regulators together to act in the best interests of the people in their designated states. The NAIC instituted the Insurance Regulatory Information System (IRIS) to evaluate the financial condition of insurance providers.
- Market Conduct Examinations
- The NAIC provides a Market Regulation Handbook, updated annually, that provides guidance and encourages uniform market conduct regulation practices. The handbook includes new model laws, regulations and other relevant materials.
- Solvency Regulation and Financial Stability
- NAIC’s Financial Stability (E) Task Force oversees issues concerning domestic or global financial stability connected to the role of state insurance regulators.
- Consumer Complaint Handling
- The NAIC tracks complaints within the insurance industry. One popular way to check a company’s reliability is by searching their NAIC complaint index score, which indicates if it has a below or above average level of complaints.
- Insurance Industry Best Practices
- The NAIC provides a Company Licensing Best Practices Handbook to issuers. The handbook includes detailed and comprehensive insurance information, including legal, market regulation and statistical reports. The 2023 Company Licensing Best Practices version is currently available.
Responsibilities of the NAIC
The NAIC has several regulatory priorities slotted for 2023.
- Climate Risk Resiliency
- NAIC members will work to close climate-risk-related protection gaps by raising awareness of coverage needs offered.
- Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity and Innovation
- To ensure regulation keeps pace with new technologies and privacy concerns, model laws will be updated.
- Long-Term Care Insurance
- The NAIC will investigate a transition to a longer-term strategy, which will include implementing the Multistate Actuarial (MSA) Review Framework for a consistent regulatory environment.
- Race and Insurance Protection Gaps and Financial Inclusion
- The NAIC will work to close the protection gap for underrepresented groups and minorities, addressing barriers and expanding opportunities.
- Marketing of Insurance Products
- To combat misleading insurance marketing, the NAIC will create a customized search tool to access the license of insurance producers.
2023 NAIC Regulatory Priorities
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The NAIC’s Top 10 Annuity Issuers
Based on data filings received by March 27, 2023, the NAIC released its annual market share data report, identifying leading insurance writers in several key lines of business.
The data categorizes the top groups and companies by direct written premiums as reported on their annual financial statement. The list is only comprised of companies that report to the NAIC.
NAIC’s Top 10 Annuity Issuers of 2022
- Apollo Global Management Group
- Mass Mutual Life Insurance Group
- American Intelligence Group
- New York Life Group
- Lincoln National Group
- Equitable Holdings Inc.
- Jackson National Group
- TIAA Family Group
Model Laws & Accreditation
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners serves to provide standardization and consistency within the insurance industry, while accounting for the differences among the states’ legislatures and regulations.
Because of these differences, state insurance departments require flexibility to operate efficiently and adhere to industry best practices.
This is where model laws and accreditation come into play.
According to the NAIC, model laws must satisfy a two-pronged test. They must first establish a “minimum national standard.” Then, the members must agree to dedicate the resources needed to support the law.
If the measure doesn’t meet these criteria, the working group or task force can submit it as a guideline instead.
Model laws and guidelines, along with accreditation — which is the NAIC certification affirming that a state’s insurance department follows industry standards — allow the NAIC to assess and verify each state’s ability to oversee the financial status of insurance companies.
How the NAIC Protects Annuity Owners
Because annuities are insurance products, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners regulates these financial contracts. In addition to the NAIC’s oversight, variable annuities are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. This is because variable annuities, unlike fixed annuities, are classified as securities.
The NAIC created and regularly updates the Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation (Model 275), which outlines standards and procedures for insurers and brokers recommending annuity products to consumers.
Protecting annuity and life insurance consumers is a fundamental responsibility of the NAIC. The association developed the Insurance Regulatory Information System (IRIS), a database of insurance companies, to provide state insurance departments with data on each company’s financial strength.
By alerting state commissioners to financially unstable insurers, the NAIC strives to prevent consumers from purchasing annuities from insolvent companies.
NAIC Committees and Working Groups
The NAIC released their 2023 Committee Structure, which breaks down who overlooks the different regulatory priorities. The A committee subgroup looks over annuities and life insurance.
- Life Insurance and Annuities (A) Committee
- The Life Insurance and Annuities (A) Committee is a subgroup of the NAIC that handles issues with life insurance and annuity products. The committee comprises several working groups, including the Annuity Disclosure (A) Working Group, the Annuity Suitability (A) Working Group and the Retirement Security (A) Working Group.
Collectively, these subgroups review and revise annuity model regulations and make recommendations in alignment with the NAIC’s mission and initiatives.
- Index-Linked Variable Annuity (A) Subgroup
- In June 2021, the NAIC created the Index-Linked Variable Annuity (A) Subgroup in response to growing index-linked annuity sales across the country. The new subgroup is the latest addition to the broader NAIC Life Insurance and Annuities (A) Committee.
According to the NAIC website, the purpose of the new subgroup is to “provide recommendations and changes, as appropriate, to nonforfeiture, or interim value requirements related to index-linked variable annuities.”
Nonforfeiture is an insurance policy clause stipulating that a policyholder will receive a full or partial refund of paid premiums if the policy lapses after a specified time due to missed premium payments.
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Frequently Asked Questions About the NAIC
Birny Birnbaum, a designated consumer representative at the NAIC and member of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Federal Advisory Committee on Insurance, answered Annuity.org’s frequently asked questions about the NAIC.
The NAIC is not a regulator, but an association of U.S. insurance regulators that provides a variety of assistance to the states — including data collection and technical analysis — as well as providing a forum for the regulators to develop a national policy in the form of model laws, regulations and guidelines.
While state insurance departments do not offer legal advice to consumers, the departments have staff to assist consumers with policy questions and complaints.
If you feel like you have been treated unfairly, contact your state insurance department and file a complaint.. In most cases, consumers can file complaints electronically via state-specific department of insurance websites.