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WASHINGTON–The head of W.R. Berkley Insurance Co. testifying at a Senate hearing on the future of insurance regulation voiced support for creation of a “independent” federal insurance regulator as the best means of regulating property-casualty insurance.

But representatives of smaller insurers, state regulators and independent agents challenged that view, asking that legislators “act prudently and responsibly” before revising current state-based regulatory systems to account for the current economic crisis.