The fabled New York State Insurance Department will open its doors Oct. 3 as a part of a new New York State Department of Financial Services. Insurers shouldn’t expect to see too much disruption – yet.
The change is the culmination of a directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, issued early in the year. Cuomo told the banking and insurance departments to merge to save money.
An early attempt by the governor to strengthen the new department by adding a consumer protection board, and by injecting prosecutorial or quasi-attorney general powers, was roundly defeated by the state insurance lobby when the matter came up for a budget vote in the state legislature.
However, it’s clear that there’s a new sheriff in town.
DFS (it technically doesn’t exist yet) Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, who was confirmed in late May, is getting out ahead of the curve and becoming the public face of the future agency by issuing statements on insurance consumer protection matters like coverage in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and banking issues like mortgage insurance
Insurance groups are happy that some continuity is provided by James Wrynn, who is still listed as New York insurance superintendent and now will be the DFS deputy overseeing insurance. Agents and industry have a relatively good relationship with Wrynn.
Wrynn joined Lawsky in issuing a recent statement dealing with the liquidation of Executive Life Insurance Company of New York, Jericho, N.Y., a company that has been winding down for a generation.