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09/11/2006
     
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The National Insurance Act of 2006

Branson West, MO - Sept 11, 2006 - In 2002, friends of iCan (from within upper management of the insurance industry) let us know of industry plans to push for a Federal Department of Insurance to be folded into the U.S.Department of Commerce. The underlying objective at that time was to effectuate insurance related Tort-reform by achieving a National No-fault form of auto insurance. In anticipation thereof, we developed a Policyholders' Bill of Rights and published it to the iCan web site in October, 2002. On July 08, 2003, nine months after iCan published their Policyholders' Bill of Rights, Senator Hollings introduced S.1373 entitled the "Insurance Consumer Protection Act of 2003". Thousands of iCan consumers were asked to provide a copy of the Policyholders' Bill of Rights to their Senators and Congressmen. We know not the eventual fate of S.1373. A copy of S.1373 may yet be available for review onLine by going to ... http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:s1373is.txt.pdf. On April 06, 2006 another Bill was introduced in Congress identified as S.2509 entitled "The National Insurance Act of 2006" ... While this is not the first attempt to create a Federal Department of Insurance, this one may well become law. You can access this current Bill onLine and read it for yourself by going to ... http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-2509Background ... This writer has spent 40+ years working within the insurance/claims arena as an agent, staff adjuster, litigation supervisor, trainer, independent adjuster, consumer advocate, litigation consultant and currently serves as executive director of the Insurance Consumer Advocate Network. This extensive experience provides a foundation for the observations expressed herein. For more than 30 years the insurance industry has been campaigning for No-fault insurance on a state-by-state basis ... In 1986 there was a proposition on the Arizona ballot that would have allowed No-fault insurance ... This writer spent 6 weeks stumping against that proposition by debating insurance industry lobbyists before citizen action groups ... That proposition went down to narrow defeat. The insurance industry has likewise been lobbying for "Tort reform" ... The current administration has "Tort reform" as a basic element of its agenda ... No-fault insurance, especially as administered at the Federal level, would constitute a form of "Tort reform" with broad, sweeping and tragic consequences. Industry Evaluation ... Over the years this writer has seen many faces of the insurance industry. When asked for a synopsis of the insurance industry I've had to describe it as ... Two Profiles - Avoiding a Face ... One Profile is for Legislators, Regulators, Voters and Prospective Policyholders while the Other Profile is for Existing Policyholders expecting promises to be kept ... When pressed for a one-word description, that word would have to be "insidious" ... (adj) - 1. Intended to entrap or beguile - 2. Stealthily treacherous or deceitful - 3. Operating or proceeding inconspicuously but with grave effect. National Insurance Act of 2006 / Observations ... 1 - Office of Ombudsman ... While potentially available to consumers, the primary intent of this office seems to be a tool to enhance communication between the Federal Department of Insurance and the insurers being regulated ... "Commissioner" seems to have the authority to limit the scope of activity in which the Office of Ombudsman would be allowed to become involved. 2 - Transparency - While transparency as a standard evokes positive impressions ... the "Commissioner" has the authority to "Seal" any documents he/she believes to be in the "Best interest of the public". 3 - Accounting Standards - S.2509 calls for a standardization of accounting methods to be used to determine insurer profitability ... This is a Good Thing and is, in fact, an element included in iCan's Policyholders' Bill of Rights 4 - Pre-Approval of Rates - S.2509 calls for Federal Department of Insurance pre-approval of premium rates before implementation ... This is also a Good Thing and is, in fact, also an element included in iCan's Policyholders' Bill of Rights ... However, if the Federal Department of Insurance fails to "Approve" rates within a short period of time, insurers have the right to implement whatever rates they filed without being subject to retro-active reversal. 5 - No Delegation of Authority - S.2509 precludes the "Commissioner" from delegating any authority to any "Insurance industry self-regulating organization" ... This in-and-of-itself sounds Good ... However, as any reader of the law can appreciate, the impact of a law can be as profound by what a law Does Not say as what it Does say ...Here, it would seem completely within the letter of the law for the "Commissioner" to delegate authority to individuals who may be members of an "Insurance self-regulating organization" but would be expected to act outside their membership ... This appears to be an opportunity for the "Commissioner" to act within the Letter of the Law while, at the same time, defeating the Intent of the Law. 6 - Consumer Protections - While knowing S.2509 creates an Office of Ombudsman may allow a warm-and-fuzzy feeling, that feeling evaporates when reality shows there is virtually no statutory basis for the Office of Ombudsman to intervene on behalf of a consumer ... iCan's Policyholders' Bill of Rights contains two (2) elements incorporated into S.2509, though the rate control element has been substantially compromised ... However, other elements of iCan's Policyholders' Bill of Rights, that we consider essential protections, have been ignored ... Right of Insurability ... Right of Equitable Recovery ... Right of Public Record Admissibility ... Right of Third Party to access Alternative Dispute Resolutions as outlined in the Standard ISO-165 Line Contract referencing First Party rights to "Arbitration" and "Appraisal" options. 7 - Authority of "Commissioner" - S.2509 gives the "Commissioner" broad (Czar Like) authority to implement rules and regulations as he/she may choose ... All this power will rest in the hands of one individual ... For the past 30 years the insurance industry has spent 100's of 1,000,000's of Dollars trying to implement No-fault insurance on a state-by-state basis ... That effort has been largely unsuccessful ... In reading S.2509 we see nothing to preclude the establishment of National No-fault Insurance ... In fact, we see the "Commissioner" as having the authority to do Exactly that. For Your Consideration ... Use the links incorporated into this press release to read S.2509 and the Policyholders' Bill of Rights for yourself ... Evaluate our above listed "Observations" for yourself ... If you feel S.2509 deserves more discussion ... Start talking ... Start eMailing ... Include your Senators and Congressmen in this effort ... Help us shine a light on what we see as potentially the most devastating insurance related legislation to confront consumers in more than 40 years. Let your Senators and Congressmen know how you feel about having the/a Policyholders' Bill of Rights ammended into the National Insurance Act of 2006 ... At the Very Least, insist the "Commissioner" NOT be given the authority to override any existing Fault or No-fault statutes currently in place in any state. Summation ... In the opinion of this writer, The National Insurance Act of 2006, in its present form, is a thinly disguised though well camouflaged "On Ramp" for National No-fault insurance ... Let us Not allow our Congress to take an action based upon inaccurate or incomplete information. ________________________________________The Insurance Consumer Advocate Network is an InterNet based consumer advocacy effort designed to Increase Consumer Awareness as to Insurance Related Issues, Encourage Consumer Involvement with Insurance Related Efforts and Facilitate Consumer Contact with Pro-Consumer Entities.The InterNet web site for the Insurance Consumer Advocate Network is www.iCan2000.com

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