Incumbent insurance commissioners from California, Georgia and Kansas won Tuesday’s midterm elections, while Oklahoma’s commissioner was returned to office without opposition in either the primary or the general election.
On the other hand, two states, Massachusetts and Maryland, had appointed commissioners, and the governor’s office changed hands between parties, which may have influenced the fate of the commissioners.
California was the hottest state, where 2018 Democratic Commissioner Ricardo Lara defeated Republican nominee Robert Howell’s challenge by a margin of 58% to 42%.
Lara has been criticized by the insurance industry for refusing to consider requests for rate increases. pressure auto insurers to disclose windfall profits From the COVID-19 pandemic.
Auto insurers claim they still owe kickbacks to California drivers who were overbilled during the pandemic’s stay-at-home period, and in October sent 47 insurers detailed information on claims costs during that time. ordered to provide information.
To date, in response to the Commissioner’s orders, insurance companies have returned more than $2.4 billion in premiums to Californians. “However, based on the Bureau’s analysis and calculations, Commissioner Lara continues to emphasize.”[i]Insurers must do more to bring back overstated private car premiums, and should continue to do so as long as the pandemic reduces the risk of loss.
The National Association of Mutual Insurers (NAMIC), the California Individual Insurers Federation (PIFC), and the Property and Casualty Insurance Association of America (APCIA) sent a joint letter to Lara threatening to jeopardize her refusal to approve any insurance. I warned you there is. Rates have risen since the coronavirus pandemic began more than two years ago.
Lara has also been criticized by the public interest group Consumer Watchdog. [CW] About what is called CDI’s “pay-to-play scandal”. The CW appeared in court in her July, seeking an order that Lara disclose records of all meetings she had with insurance company representatives.
In an open letter to voters on Sept. 29, 2019, Lara apologized for an unspecified meeting and promised reform.
“I believe that effective public service requires constant adherence to the highest ethical standards,” writes Lara. “However, during my campaign and in the first six months after taking office, my campaign scheduled meetings and solicited campaign funds that were inconsistent with my pledges to refuse contributions from the insurance industry. I take full responsibility and apologize deeply.”
In Georgia, incumbent Republican Commissioner John King defeated Democratic challenger Janice Lawes Robinson 54.1% to 45.9%.
King was appointed to the position by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 after previous commissioner Jim Beck was convicted of fraud and money laundering charges.
Auto insurance rates were a central issue in the campaign. King said he wants to protect consumers from high interest rates, but he doesn’t want to risk insurers abandoning the state.
In August, King publicly criticized Allstate for exploiting a loophole to raise Georgia’s auto insurance rates by 25% for the second time since early 2022.
“When families are already suffering from historic inflation from gas stations to grocery stores, Allstate chose to exploit loopholes in state law to significantly increase costs for hardworking Georgians. , I feel angry and disappointed.” Time. “This latest increase means that Allstate has now bypassed our office and he has raised rates across Georgia by 40% in this calendar year alone.”
As a result, King lobbied Congress to change Georgia law to give his office “additional powers to protect consumers from this type of unpardonable behavior.”
King also issued a directive in March reminding auto insurance companies that they must include the full amount of taxes paid on replacement vehicles when resolving total loss claims.
He said issued an order I learned about “car insurance company confusion” on how to calculate taxes correctly. “I will first reiterate that the purpose of insurance is to restore the insured following a covered loss,” King said in his directive.
In Kansas, Republican Vicky Schmidt defeated Democratic challenger Kiel Cochrane by a margin of 62% to 38%.
Schmidt, who is in his first term since being elected to the Senate four years ago, is touting work to modernize his office and how to get an insurance agency license.
By reducing regulatory costs of doing business, Schmidt said her department has saved more than $35 million in insurance and securities premiums.
“Under my leadership, the department has returned more than $24 million to Kansas, saving taxpayer dollars and reducing fees to make Kansas a great place to do business. We have found many efficiencies that will help us,” she said in a campaign statement.
In Oklahoma, Commissioner Glenn Mullready was elected to a second term on Tuesday with no dissenters on the ballot.
In the campaign materials, Mulreddy said it protects consumers by ensuring that “consumer claims are paid in a prompt and fair manner,” and that the state’s insurance industry is stable and gives consumers choice. said his goal was to be able to provide
“Oklahomans don’t want to worry about their insurance companies being financially solvent or worrying about what might happen if they leave the state,” he said.
Mulready was one of several insurance commissioners who said in 2019 that Erica Eversman, consumer liaison for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, appeared to embrace the conflict industry’s concerns.
She called Mulready “very interesting” and noted that his campaign is based on the idea of healthcare choice. However, she said they had a “great conversation.”
Changes in the State House
In Massachusetts and Maryland, Democratic candidates have replaced Republican candidates for governor. The incoming governors, Maura Healy of Massachusetts and Wes Moore of Maryland, will have the opportunity to appoint new insurance commissioners.
Healy, currently the state’s attorney general, will succeed Republican Governor Charlie Baker, former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Moore, an investment banker, author, and television producer, will succeed Larry Hogan, a developer and founder of the non-profit anti-tax advocacy group.
Gary Anderson is currently Acting Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Massachusetts. He was appointed by Baker in February 2017 after Daniel Judson’s resignation. In February 2014, he joined the Massachusetts Department of Insurance as First Deputy Commissioner.
Kathleen A. Birrane was appointed Insurance Commissioner of Maryland in May 2020 by Republican Governor Larry Hogan. Her practice focused on insurance and reinsurance transactions, regulatory compliance, and related litigation.
Featured image by JasonDoiy/iStock