The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has begun a 30-day comment period on a draft white paper (available here) that no doubt will shape the development in states across the country of insurance requirements relevant to transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft.

The NAIC is a forum in which insurance regulators gather to discuss public policy issues related to insurance regulation. To codify its findings and to encourage uniformity between the states, the NAIC regularly produces studies and pieces of model legislation.

TNCs and the “sharing economy” as a whole have emerged as pressing issues for insurance companies and their regulators, alike. Questions about the contours of liability and the applicability of personal automobile insurance coverage vs. commercial insurance coverage are leading different jurisdictions to adopt different approaches.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones — by now, a seasoned voice on the issue after the Golden State passed its own TNC legislative compromise last year — is seeking to provide a policy baseline from which other states can approach their work. Jones has overseen the creation and work of a “Sharing Economy Working Group” within the NAIC.

As the chairman of the working group, his team in California is likely to provide a significant portion of the white paper’s content. Thus, while the white paper will seek to outline and grapple with the insurance implications of TNCs nationally, one could reasonably suspect some bias toward California’s regulatory régime.

This has its advantages and disadvantages. California’s TNC legislation is, overall, quite a good starting point. Yet California’s preference for active administrative oversight might not comport with the preferences of other jurisdictions. To ensure that the interests of all states are well represented, it is crucial that other state insurance regulators meaningfully engage.

Fortunately, Jones and the NAIC are eager for commentary about the draft white paper. Between now and Feb. 20, the NAIC is soliciting comments on the white paper. While an admittedly abbreviated time frame, the pressing importance of the TNC issue is forcing regulators to move fast. His goal is to have the NAIC as a whole consider the white paper at its spring meeting in Phoenix, scheduled for March 28 through March 31.

Whatever the white paper’s final form, the NAIC will no doubt profit by providing careful and ongoing attention to this issue. Given the speed at which TNCs and other new economy adopt new technologies to respond new behaviors, the findings of this or any other report on the “state of the market” should always been seen as provisional.

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