The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is issuing a consumer alert to federal and state lawmakers that the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) has a strong industry bent.

"Too often, NCOIL’s advocacy is virtually indistinguishable from those of insurance interests," said J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance at the CFA and former Texas insurance commissioner. "Perhaps because so many of their members are affiliated with the insurance industry, NCOIL consistently promotes industry self-regulation and weak oversight of insurance abuses."

NCOIL is "an organization of state legislators whose main area of public policy concern is insurance legislation and regulation," according to the organization’s Web site. The CFA charges that 40% of NCOIL’s leadership has affiliations or business with insurance companies. That figure includes individuals who work or have worked in a law firm that practices insurance law and those who are or have been agents or otherwise associated with the insurance industry.

More seriously, the CFA contends that NCOIL advocates self-regulation of the industry, even in the face of "state regulatory failures that led to well-known market conduct abuses that cost consumers millions of dollars."

"NCOIL proposals should be seen for what they are: ideas from a group with an overwhelming insurance industry bias, with little or no consumer input. The NCOIL recommendations should be given no more weight than other proposals from the insurance industry, despite the stealth with which these industry-oriented proposals are masked," Hunter said.

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