WASHINGTON (Oct. 25, 2012) — The R Street Institute today commended the National Association of Insurance Commissioners – the trade association and educational foundation comprised of the nation’s 56 state and territorial insurance regulators – for choosing to make publications of the model laws, regulations and guidelines promulgated by its members available to the public free of charge.

Detailed in the NAIC’s newly proposed 2013 budget, the change is projected to reduce the fees the NAIC would otherwise collect to read its model laws by just over $200,000. R Street Senior Fellow and Public Affairs Director R.J. Lehmann expressed hope that the move could portend a shift toward greater openness and transparency by the regulators group.

“This is an important step, even if largely a symbolic one,” Lehmann said. “What we hope it symbolizes is a recognition by the NAIC that the general public is entitled to access to what should be public information from its public officials, who earn their salaries on the public dime. And we think this shift should absolutely be extended to include making all of the NAIC’s statutory insurance data freely available to the public on an open source basis.”

According to its proposed budget, the NAIC projects to collect $46.3 million in revenues in 2013 stemming from its unusual monopoly on statutory insurance data. That includes $26.8 million in fees assessed on insurers to file periodic financial reports with the NAIC’s Financial Data Repository, a 3.5% hike over 2012, and $19.5 million from the sale of insurance data products and other publications, up 3.2% from this year.

Taken together, those two line items are the NAIC’s two largest revenue sources and represent more than half of the group’s projected $80 million in revenues. By contrast, the NAIC projects to collect just $2.3 million in fees from state insurance departments, who benefit greatly from the education, actuarial, market conduct and securities valuation services the NAIC provides to the states.

“There is no justification for a private organization to profit from a monopoly on public data, nor for any regulator to withhold from the public crucial financial data about the companies they regulate,” Lehmann said. “Just as the SEC makes filings by publicly traded firms available to the public through its EDGAR service and the Federal Reserve makes the financial reports of depository institutions available through the National Information Center, we hope someday soon the NAIC will do the right thing by consumers, taxpayers and the general public and make all of its insurance statutory reports available free of charge.”

R Street is a non-profit public policy research organization that supports free markets; limited, effective government; and responsible environmental stewardship. It has headquarters in Washington, D.C. and branch offices in Tallahassee, Fla.; Austin,Texas; and Columbus, Ohio. Its website is www.redesign.rstreet.org.

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