Pickens to Work on Iraq Insurance System

April 8, 2004

Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Mike Pickens will spend the next two months in Iraq helping that country’s new leaders establish an insurance system, the Associated Press reported.

Pickens, who has also helped officials in Egypt, China, Vietnam and India restructure their insurance laws. He will be working with Mike Carr, a reinsurance specialist from the United Kingdom, for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“Mike and I will be helping to draft the Iraqi insurance code,” said Pickens, who is the immediate past president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “We’ll present that to the coalition provisional authorities for approval and try to get the code enacted.”

Pickens said he and Carr have already started drafting the insurance code, modeling it after Jordanian law. He said Iraq’s old system was run by Saddam Hussein and people close to him.

Pickens said he will live in the Babylon Hotel across the Tigris River from Saddam’s former palace. He will travel by armored van to his nearby office, a doublewide trailer, while wearing a flak jacket and helmet.

He said he’s not too worried about the danger.

“There are a lot more people over there who will be in more dangerous circumstances than we will be,” Pickens said.

Pickens said he will not be on state time while in Iraq, instead using vacation and built up leave to take the trip. He will try to conduct some Arkansas business through e-mail and video conferencing.

His expenses will be paid by the Agency for International Development.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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