With a slew of rookies stepping up to the plate to take a swing at being state insurance regulators this year, it seems like a good time to shout some encouragementand catcallsfrom the bleachers.
Perhaps, before they grow accustomed to the crowds roar (or booing), they might actually listen to the tongue-in-cheek musings of someone who has been in the press box for a long time, covering regulator quirks and foibles.
A regulators job is not an easy taskso little time, so many competing interests. If they are elected, this is their opportunity to make many voters happy and many insurers displeased. It requires some careful footwork. Smack the carriers around too much and they will threaten to leave the ballpark and send rates up. That wont please the “fans”your electorate.
If you are appointed, you may experience the clout of those carriers that are among your states largest employers. They may also be big contributors to the governor who appointed you.
Insurers must always be approached with caution, especially if you are a small state and they are a big companycarriers can embroil your moves in budget-busting litigation. And if you came from the industry and plan on rejoining that side sometime in the future, you might consider that carriers will watch to see how you play ball.
Using the job for sketchy “charity” operations or fibbing to the FBI will get you banned from the sport altogether. However, censoring documents revealing an insurance executives felony record (as once happened in New York) will make points with his company.
Consumer activists can pose a small problem. Many are skilled at generating nasty headlines and manipulating the press. In general, they can be dealt with easily. Whatever their complaint, say you will examine it. If the noise persists, hold a hearing. If the outcry continues, hold another hearing. People will get bored reading about it and the press will get tired writing about it. Wait until something else is big in the headlines and make your move. In a pinch, appoint a committee to investigate.