Big Turnover Seen In The Ranks Of State Insurance Commissioners
The face of insurance regulation looks very different following the elections on Nov. 5.
Depending on whom you ask, that face is more “public-interest oriented” or “liberal,” according to some interviews with National Underwriter.
So, while current work on modernizing insurance regulation, ensuring consumer privacy and other significant issues is likely to continue, how they are perceived and handled could change, these sources say.
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And, according to one consumer advocate, Kevin Hennosy, SpreadtheRisk.org, Kansas City, Mo., the new group of insurance commissioners could offer a voting block that will be more supportive of consumer issues.
A total of 36 gubernatorial elections were held and as of Nov. 6, at least 23 new governors elected, according to the National Governors Association, Washington.
Four contests for elected insurance commissioners were held.
Perhaps the race for governor most closely watched by insurers was in Kansas where Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, insurance commissioner and former president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, handily won against her Republican opponent, Republican State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger by a margin of 53% to 45%.
The four races for elected insurance commissioners produced one new face, reelection of two incumbents and a former commissioner who resurfaced after seven years away from insurance regulation.
The new face, Sandy Praeger, a Kansas Republican, will fill the spot being vacated by Sebelius. In Georgia, John Oxendine, a Republican, was reelected for a third term while Carroll Fisher, a Democrat from Oklahoma won a second term.
In California, John Garamendi, a Democrat, beat his Republican opponent, Gary Mendoza.
California is a state that is closely monitored by insurers because its legislature is addressing critical life and property-casualty issues that include long-term care oversight, privacy protections and workers compensation reform.
Garamendi has expressed an interest in working with insurers and starting anew, according to representatives from the American Insurance Association, Washington, and the National Association of Independent Insurers, Des Plaines, Ill.
In his last term in office, his implementation of Proposition 103, a ballot initiative which ordered insurers to give auto premium rebates to policyholders, created tensions between Garamendi and insurers, sources say.
Californias legislature is going to continue to present challenges to many business interests in the state, according to industry trade groups.