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The System for Electronic Rate and Form Filing Needs Competition
May 01, 2009
The property and casualty insurance policies that most Americans buy depend on a system by which insurers file rates—the fees they charge for insurance policies—and forms—the language and forms insurers use to describe those policies to consumers. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have separate laws concerning these rates and forms. Increasingly, these rates and forms flow through a computer program called the System for Electronic Rate and Form Filing (SERFF), which is owned and operated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Nineteen states require that all filings go through SERFF.
The paper explains the System for Electronic Rate and Form Filing’s structure and raises questions regarding its usefulness. The paper’s first section provides a broad overview of the “admitted” or “standard” insurance market, and describes why rate and form filing are essential to its continuation in its current form. The second section describes the history and function of SERFF. The third section discusses three major problems with SERFF. The fourth and final section proposes a series of solutions that would solve these problems. SERFF, as it currently exists, raises serious practical, equity, and legal questions—particularly relating to the delegation of taxing authority—and needs reform.