Planning for the future can be distressing for Missouri families. The idea of retirement can seem like a far-off dream for most workers, if not an impossibility. Prices are rising but wages are stagnant. Our health care system is one of the worst in the country.
The lack of a sufficient safety net in this country means that medical bills can lead to a lifetime of debt. For many Missourians, annuities offered by life insurance are a central part of their financial planning and, in some cases, the only option for financial security in their retirement years. That financial security is now under direct attack from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), an organization led by Missouri Insurance Commissioner Chlora Lindley-Myers.
The NAIC is working directly with big insurance companies to pass new regulations on smaller competitors that would line their pockets by hurting Missouri workers, families, and retirees. Last month, a group of large life insurers, including household names like MetLife and Prudential, sent a letter to the NAIC asking for a 50 percent increase in cash requirements for certain life insurers that are backed
by private investments.
Naturally, that penalty does not apply to everyone – especially not MetLife, Prudential, and the other companies who requested it. Instead, they are designed to take away options for people trying to secure their family’s future. With fewer products on the market, prices will go up for consumers – as will profits for the big insurance companies. Eight days after the letter was sent, and NAIC committee approved the new penalty.
If adopted by the NAIC, the new regulations would be devastating for families and retirees. Life insurance is a critical tool that helps people pay their bills and stay in their homes after the tragic loss of a loved one.
Without it, many retirees would quickly run out of options. Nearly 70 percent of people with life insurance plans feel financially secure, but only half without life insurance feel the same. Almost half of Americans say they would feel a financial burden within six months of the death of a primary earner. Missourians planning for the future need as many options as possible, but these penalties are designed to shut down
competition, take away choices, and drive up costs, all for the benefit of the big insurance companies.
When the NAIC adopts new rules, state insurance commissioners take them back to their states to implement them. NAIC staff members, many of whom come from the insurance industry, have been very vocal in pushing for penalties on some insurance companies for the gain of the big insurers, which
control more than half the life insurance market already. As NAIC President, Commissioner Lindley Myers can halt the organization’s push to carry water for big insurance companies. As the top insurance
regulator for Missouri, she can reject any rules the NAIC attempts to force on the states. Commissioner
Lindley-Myers has a strong record of standing up for consumers, particularly communities of color, and has an opportunity to do so again.
Missourians already face a protection gap that is only magnified in our communities of color. Anyone chasing the dream of retirement security needs every available option, including affordable life
insurance policies that can provide a critical lifeline to seniors. Director Lindley-Myers should once again
stand up to the big insurers and Republican politicians and make sure these options are on the table for anyone who can use them.