For decades, insurers have used their lobbying clout to remain the only major sector of the financial-services industry free from federal regulation. Now, large insurance companies are working with House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) on a plan that would give insurers a choice between federal or state regulation. If the measure -- which Dingell plans to introduce next year -- becomes law, large international companies may well opt for unified federal rules. Smaller insurers are likely to retain their comfortable relationship with state regulators.

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