NU Online News Service, Jan. 30, 4:30 p.m. EST? New York Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio announced he will be leaving his post sometime next month.[@@]

The announcement came today in a release from New York Gov. George Pataki’s office.

Gov. Pataki has nominated Assemblyman Howard D. Mills III, a Republican, to succeed Mr. Serio, who will be taking an as yet unspecified position in the private sector.

Recently, Mr. Serio has played a high-profile role in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, testifying before Congress and defending state regulation of insurance.

He has spent a long career in regulating the industry, joining the department in 1995 as first deputy superintendent and general counsel. He was named superintendent in May of 2001.

Mr. Mills, who has spent the last six years representing New York’s Orange and Rockland counties, has held elective office as a councilman and town supervisor since 1989. He served as deputy minority leader in the Assembly and was a member of the State Assembly’s Insurance, Housing and Ways and Means Committee.

Mike Barry, director of public affairs for the New York State Insurance Department said Mr. Mills has no private sector experience within the insurance industry, having worked in higher education outside of politics.

Mr. Mills’ qualification for the position, Mr. Barry noted, stems from his tenure on the Assembly insurance committee and his knowledge of how the system works, which would help in the shaping of future insurance legislation.

The future insurance superintendent lost his Assembly post after he decided to make a run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Charles E. Schumer, who beat him handily.

Mr. Barry said the Pataki administration expects Mr. Mills to be confirmed quickly by the Republican controlled state Senate, which is scheduled to meet Jan. 5.

Commenting on his departure, National Association of Insurance Commissioners President Diane Koken, who is also Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner said the NAIC “will miss his dedication and leadership. I personally will miss his friendship and support. I’m sure he will excel in his new endeavor and I can’t wish anything but a great deal of success. It is difficult to be an insurance superintendent in a state as complex as New York and I think he has done a great job.”

When asked about what position Mr. Serio will be taking in the private sector, Mr. Barry said it would be announced at an appropriate time in the future. He added that the position was offered to him and that there was political motivation behind the departure.