At a time when defenders of the state-based system of insurance regulation continue to face challenges to the long-standing regulatory model, former Nebraska Senator -- and former state insurance regulator -- Ben Nelson has been named CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Nelson will lead the NAIC's efforts to meet the needs of its members and represent their interests as the primary advocate and chief spokesperson in Washington, D.C. His responsibilities will include outreach to federal and international governmental entities, as well as state government associations, consumers and insurance industry representatives.
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Nelson replaces NAIC Acting CEO Andrew Beal, who stepped into the role after former CEO Dr. Therese M. Vaughan left the association in November. Beal will now return to his roles as chief operating officer and chief legal counsel.
"I am honored to serve as CEO during such an important and exciting time in the regulatory community … It is … an opportunity to advance the work of the NAIC to safeguard the insurance sector through the promotion of our outstanding regulatory framework. In my new role, I look forward to continuing our relationship with the Federal Insurance Office as well as working with state regulators on matters affecting the economy and consumers," Nelson said in a press release.
"Senator Nelson's impressive credentials and deep knowledge of state insurance regulation are simply unmatched," said Jim Donelon, NAIC President and Louisiana Insurance Commissioner, in the press release. "His rare and valuable combination of experience in insurance and government will be a tremendous asset to our organization. In addition to skillfully navigating the political arena, the stalwart leadership and collaborative nature that marked his time in public service will be integral to elevating our efforts on Capitol Hill. Moreover, as a former regulator and executive vice president of the NAIC, Senator Nelson has a keen understanding of the insurance marketplace, which will make him an effective advocate for the preservation of our state-based system of regulation."
Insurance industry trade groups expressed satisfaction with the appointment. In a statement, David Sampson, president and CEO of theProperty Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), noted:
"[Nelson's] experience as an insurance company executive, regulator and governor gives him unique qualities, experience and credibility for this position. Senator Nelson has been a proven, successful leader in the private markets, and in the public arena, in building consensus to help consumers. He has a deep understanding of the state-based U.S. regulatory system and how successful it has been in serving insurance consumers. As the NAIC faces complex issues of global and national regulatory convergence, his experience and background will be vital in navigating the landscape."
Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association (AIA), stated:
"Sen. Nelson brings a high-level of knowledge, experience and leadership that will benefit the NAIC and the insurance marketplace. He has a firsthand understanding of the important role that insurers play in the economy given his prior experience as a governor, insurance company CEO, and previously as Director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance … AIA looks forward to working with the Senator and the NAIC on state, national and international regulatory issues that aim to promote a vibrant and healthy property-casualty insurance marketplace while preserving safety and soundness."
Prior to retiring from the Senate in 2012 after two terms, Nelson served as Governor of Nebraska from 1990-1998. He also served as EVP and Chief of Staff for the NAIC (1982-1985); Director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance (1975-1975); and EVP and then president/CEO of the Central National Insurance Group (1977-1981).