In a piece for Life Annuity Specialist, Cyril Tuohy has highlighted some concerning New Jersey legislation that has, until now, gone unused and seemingly unenforced. However, some insurers have recently begun relying on it to avoid publishing their quarterly statements.
The law in question is N.J. Stat. § 17:23-1, and it provides that “Quarterly statements shall be confidential and shall not be subject to public inspection or copying”. Under this law, the quarterly financial statements of New Jersey based insurers are not available to the public.
The law came to the attention of S&P Capital IQ Pro, when it discovered that the most recent quarterly reports of insurers such as Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield and NJM could not be found.
Life Annuity Specialist sought comments on the law from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Trish Wallace, director of public affairs for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, but at the time of publication, none had been received. However, Tuohy did receive comment from Birny Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Center for Economic Justice who said the law was “quite bizarre and without any rationale”.
This kind of secrecy could be very detrimental for retirees. Quarterly statements are important monitoring tools to ensure accountability of insurers. They provide information on the insurer’s future plans. Without the public availability of quarterly reports, the actions of insurers cannot be scrutinized more regularly than once every year and 3 months (since annual statements are not filed until end March or early April) – this is far too infrequent when the lifetime retirement savings of retirees are at stake.