Insurance in the United States refers to the market for risk in the United States, the world's largest insurance market by premium volume. Of the $4.640 trillion of gross premiums written worldwide in 2013, $1.274 trillion (27%) were written in the United States.
Insurance, generally, is a contract in which the insurer agrees to compensate or indemnify another party (the insured, the policyholder or a beneficiary) for specified loss or damage to a specified thing (e.g., an item, property or life) from certain perils or risks in exchange for a fee (the insurance premium). For example, a property insurance company may agree to bear the risk that a particular piece of property (e.g., a car or a house) may suffer a specific type or types of damage or loss during a certain period of time in exchange for a fee from the policyholder who would otherwise be responsible for that damage or loss. That agreement takes the form of an insurance policy.
The NAIC acts as a forum for the creation of model laws and regulations. Each state decides whether to pass each NAIC model law or regulation, and each state may make changes in the enactment process, but the models are widely, albeit somewhat irregularly, adopted. The NAIC also acts at the national level to advance laws and policies supported by state insurance regulators. NAIC model acts and regulations provide some degree of uniformity between states, but these models do not have the force of law and have no effect unless they are adopted by a state. They are, however, used as guides by most states, and some states adopt them with little or no change.
Nevertheless, federal regulation has continued to encroach upon the state regulatory system. The idea of an optional federal charter was first raised after a spate of solvency and capacity issues plagued property and casualty insurers in the 1970s. This OFC concept was to establish an elective federal regulatory scheme that insurers could opt into from the traditional state system, somewhat analogous to the dual-charter regulation of banks. Although the optional federal chartering proposal was defeated in the 1970s, it became the precursor for a modern debate over optional federal chartering in the last decade.
In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd„Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which is touted by some as the most sweeping financial regulation overhaul since the Great Depression. The Dodd-Frank Act has significant implications for the insurance industry. Significantly, Title V of created the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) in the Department of the Treasury. The FIO is authorized to monitor all of the insurance industry and identify any gaps in the state-based regulatory system. The Dodd-Frank Act also establishes the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), which is charged with monitoring the financial services markets, including the insurance industry, to identify potential risks to the financial stability of the United States.
To relieve insurers and brokers of that tedious and time-consuming chore, many states now maintain "export lists" of risks that the state insurance commissioner has already identified as having no coverage available whatsoever from any admitted insurer in the state. In turn, brokers presented by clients with those risks can immediately "export" them to the out-of-state surplus market and apply directly to surplus line insurers without having to first document multiple attempts to present the risk to admitted insurers. However, many states have refused to establish export lists, including Florida, Illinois, and Texas.