Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart sees the upcoming Global Insurance Symposium as a big opportunity to showcase not just Iowa, but also the state-based system of insurance regulation.


A mix of influential state, national and international regulators will join more than 250 insurance professionals and regulators who have registered to attend the inaugural day-and-a-half symposium that begins a week from today.


The program will be highlighted by presentations by global heavy hitters such as Michael McRaith, director of the Federal Insurance Office, Naruki Mori, assistant commissioner for international affairs for the Japan Financial Services Agency, along with key regulators from India and Germany. There will also be panel discussions featuring the chief executives of the leading U.S. insurance trade associations, such as Tim Pawlenty, CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable and Dirk Kempthorne, president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers.


"I would submit that a lot of the issues we're going to talk about are important to every company, whether you're overseas or not," Gerhart said. 


A block of 100 downtown hotel rooms reserved for the event have filled up; about half the participants are coming from outside the state, he said.


Among the topics that will be covered during the symposium are shifting global capital standards for insurers. 


"Global capital standards is a big issue internationally," Gerhart said. "There's a move overseas to set some global capital standards, which would impact Iowa companies and every U.S. company."


Other keynote presenters will include former U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson from Nebraska, who is now CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Additionally, six other state insurance commissioners, among them Florida's Kevin McCarty and Pennsylvania's Michael Consedine, will participate in a commissioner roundtable.  


The role of increased federal oversight of the U.S. insurance industry has heated up over the past several years with the creation of the Federal Insurance Office in 2011 by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In December, the Federal Insurance Office released a report outlining recommendations for modernization of the existing state-based regulatory system.


With the symposium, "I really wanted to showcase the state-based system of insurance regulation, how it works and how it's different," Gerhart said.


The idea for the symposium was initially sparked by a discussion between Gerhart and Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO Jay Byers.


"Our thought was, we've got 213 domestic carriers in a very large industry," Gerhart said. "We have some very small companies here, along with some of the very largest, like TransAmerica Group and Principal Financial and Allied/Nationwide. So much of the dialogue is in Washington, D.C., and New York as well as overseas. We thought it made sense to have it here."