WASHINGTON - A National Association of Insurance Commissioners panel met Tuesday to put the finishing touches on a plan that would make it easier for insurance companies to operate across state lines. The group's board could vote on the plan as early as next month at its fall meeting.

State insurance regulators have been working on the plan for months since enactment of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which lets banking, insurance, and securities companies merge. Insurance industry officials have complained that banks have an advantage because they can use national charters, while insurance companies have to be licensed state-by-state. The plan is supposed to be an alternative to calls for a federal insurance charter.

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