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Insurance Law Conference
Draws International Regulators
October 25, 1999

Top insurance and financial services regulators from Latin America and the United States gathered last week in Hartford, a city that has been called the insurance capital of the world, for a roundtable discussion on insurance and financial services regulation at the University's School of Law.

Regulators from nearly a dozen Latin American countries and U.S. state and federal regulators participated in the conference, which featured panel discussions on various aspects of the financial services industry.

The conference began October 17 with welcoming remarks from Hugh Macgill, dean of the law school; A. Everette James, deputy assistant secretary for service industries and finance in the international trade administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce; and George Reider, Connecticut insurance commissioner and president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

"It's in our national interest to strengthen relationships between our people," said James, as our markets become more integrated.

"We're all waking up to the importance of regulation and sound regulation now," James said, adding that government regulation will influence people's confidence in the markets being regulated.

The conference included panel discussions on regulation of financial solvency, financial services reform, safety nets for insurance and banking, and emerging insurance products and related regulatory issues in the Latin American market. The conference concluded Wednesday with a visit to the state Department of Insurance.

During a discussion on key regulatory issues in Latin America, a panel of regulators from the United States and Latin America discussed developments in their countries. In El Salvador, the main issue is the universal no-fault automobile insurance that's to be instituted, said Guillermo Argumedo, superintendent of the country's financial system.

In Brazil, social security reform is a difficult issue, said Helio Portocarrero, superintendent of private insurance.

Costa Rica would like to privatize the institutions that sell insurance, Javier Chaves, presidential advisor in the insurance sector, said. Forty-five percent of the country's population is not covered by a pension plan, Chaves noted.

Each country has it own history and set of challenges, said John Rooney Jr. of the Coral Gables, Fla., law firm Rice Fowler. Regulators are helped by the fact that they speak the same language, said Hanley Clark, insurance commissioner of West Virginia and chairman of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors. The problem regulators face, however, is that they have to educate people worldwide, Clark said.

Sponsors of the conference included the law school, the United States Department of Commerce, the State of Connecticut Insurance Department, the International Insurance Council, the International Insurance Foundation, and several private insurance companies.

The conference was the first in an annual series. Next year's conference will focus on the European Union and the 2001 conference address issues in the Pacific Rim. The series is designed to facilitate the exchange of information on best regulatory practices and provide an opportunity for regulators from different countries to learn from one another and strengthen their relationships.

Allison Thompson