Former senator to lead insurance regulators' group

Ben Nelson of Nebraska to head up National Association of Insurance Commissioners

Jan 23, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

By Darla Mercado

Insurance
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Ben Nelson, former senator from Nebraska, speaks at a Barack Obama campaign rally in Omaha in 2008. (Bloomberg)

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has chosen former Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., to run the group of state regulators.

He replaces Therese M. Vaughan, who left in November after spending nearly four years leading the NAIC. Andrew Beal, the chief operating and legal officer at the NAIC, filled in as acting chief executive in the interim.

Mr. Nelson comes from a storied background in the insurance industry. He kicked off his career in insurance law and eventually rose to chief executive of the Central National Insurance Group in Omaha, Neb.

Mr. Nelson also spent decades on the other side of the table as a legislator and regulator. He was the director of Nebraska's insurance department from 1975 to 1976, and he worked as the chief of staff and executive vice president for the NAIC from 1982 to 1985.

Mr. Nelson also served as governor of the Cornhusker State from 1990 to 1998 before serving two terms in the U.S. Senate. He retired last year.

Mr. Nelson's addition to the NAIC is seen as a huge plus for insurance agents. “He was always supportive of insurance agents and advisers,” said Bill Anderson, the senior vice president for government relations at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

NAIFA's biggest concern is lawmakers' efforts to close the deficit — specifically, protecting the tax-deferred growth of life insurance and annuities and the tax-free payout of death benefits. “I think Mr. Nelson would support that position and be helpful in working with us if Congress were to consider such a position,” Mr. Anderson said.

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