NAIC Sees Big Turnover In Commissioner Ranks

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The annual commissioners gathering that took place in Arizona last week was missing a number of regulators who have been active in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for years.

Among the commissioners who recently left their posts are: Mary Hartung in Idaho; Scott Lakin, Missouri; Sally McCarty, Indiana; Mike Pickens, Arkansas; Greg Serio, New York; Merwin Stewart, Utah; Terri Vaughan, Iowa; and Donna Lee Williams, Delaware.

Additionally, Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor has announced he will not seek reappointment when his term ends in May 2005.

Among replacements named are: Julie Bowman in Arkansas; Matt Denn, Delaware; Dale Finke, Missouri; D. Kent Michie, Utah; Howard Mills, New York; Gary Smith, Idaho; and Susan Voss, Iowa.

Speaking before the meeting, Diane Koken, NAIC president and Pennsylvania commissioner, said the meeting would benefit from the new faces and new ideas.

This years meeting was set to tackle issues including brokers compensation and disclosure, the interstate compact, company and producer licensing, and responding to the potential re-introduction of the State Modernization and Regulatory Transparency draft law in Congress.

The slew of departures comes at a time when state insurance regulation is facing criticism and a call among some for more federal oversight. But Koken says the turnover has more to do with opportunities that have come up for commissioners as well as the demands of a “rewarding but challenging” job.

She says the depth of talent in the current commissioner pool will offset any talent lost by departures. Periodically, Koken says, there is a turnover within the ranks of commissioners, but even with the current turnover, “there is still a lot of institutional knowledge and experience among commissioners.” She notes longtime regulators, such as George Dale, who has been Mississippi commissioner since 1975, and Jim Long, who has been North Carolina commissioner since 1984.

Long says there have been several previous large turnovers of commissioners, such as in 1995 and 2002. But, he says there is still a good balance of longtime regulators and new commissioners with a fresh approach.

There is a mentor program for new commissioners, Long says, because becoming accustomed to all the issues the NAIC addresses can be like “taking a drink of water from a fire hydrant.”

John Oxendine, Georgia insurance commissioner since January 1994, says each new group of commissioners brings “new talents” to the NAIC. “I dont think it will have any effect on the NAIC.” He notes that large commissioner turnovers occur when many new governors are elected.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, January 27, 2005. Copyright 2005 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.