Change afoot in the great state of Iowa (AP Images)

Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad recently named Nick C. Gerhart as the new Iowa Insurance Commissioner, succeeding Susan Voss, currently immediate past president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Gerhart currently serves as the vice president of compliance and regulatory affairs at the Sammons Financial Group. Previously, he served as the vice president of compliance communications and associate general counsel at American Equity Investment Life Insurance Co.

Voss is eligible for retirement from the state system this fall after 31 years in state government, and is electing to leave the position at the end of this year, a spokesman for the department said. 

She joins other commissioners who are expected to leave, or whose leave-taking is imminent, because of retirement, elections, or change in governor or party. Alaska’s Linda Hall and Arizona’s Christina Urias  are two of the most prominent, with institutional knowledge in surplus lines, the broker community, reserving issues and international insurance regulation, among other regulatory issues and challenges.

At least five states have an election for insurance commissioner in 2012 and about a dozen have an election for governor, a position which usually brings with it a newly-selected insurance commissioner chosen by the new governor. 

As for Voss, an avid lover of the Beatles and show tunes who could easily morph into a songbird at National Meetings, she has yet to decide her best next career move, but will have time to think about it over the next few months. She has made many inroads into the international regulatory arena as an NAIC executive, though, and presided over the NAIC during critical times in the development of rules for health care reform, questions around life actuarial reserve soundness and even the nature and role of the NAIC.

Gerhart will begin work within the department this fall, and will fully assume responsibilities from  Voss at the end of this calendar year.

“I want to thank Susan Voss for her great service to the state of Iowa,” stated Branstad in a press release. 

“Nick Gerhart is a bright, talented executive who understands the vital importance of this industry in our state. Nick understands the challenges within the industry as well, and is a problem-solver who will excel in this position,” the governor stated.

Gerhart, 37, graduated cum laude from the University of Northern Iowa. Gerhart earned a juris doctor from the Saint Louis University School of Law in 2001, and went on to attain his Masters of Health Administration in 2002.  Nick and his wife, Jessica, reside in Des Moines. They have two daughters.  

“I am excited to serve the people of Iowa in this new position,” said Gerhart. “The insurance industry has become a pillar of our Iowa economy. I am thrilled to be leading a division that is not only recognized for their ability to protect the public, but also their ability to work with companies critical to our economic success.”

“Susan Voss did fantastic work leading the Iowa Insurance Division,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “I am excited to have Nick Gerhart continue that work, and bring fresh, new ideas in accomplishing the mission of the division.”