Having spent the morning fighting crime, the ICAE journey continued. Two regulators served on the Journey to Market Conduct panel, moderated by Christine Palmieri, Vice President of Travelers. The regulators pulled back the curtain to reveal a little more about the regulator mindset of market conduct and the role of the consumer professional.
The regulators noted that market regulation is now performed more proactively than in the past. Due to better data analysis, a product, company or group of companies can be reviewed carefully—but less intrusively. This is accomplished by using the data to determine what companies may be outliers. However, even today, one of the main elements reviewed in the analysis is complaints.
Why consumer affairs specialists are important
The regulators clearly stated that complaint-handling professionals are vital to providing information that either triggers or deflects a market conduct exam. Actions big and small can help avoid market conduct investigations. Some comments from regulators about those big-and-small actions included:
- Although the complaint-review process is different in different states, all agree that complaints are fundamental in any current review process. Especially important, and frequently within the purview of consumer affairs professionals, is the concept that accurate coding is critical or analysis will be skewed, right at the beginning—no one wants that to happen.
- Reconciliation is important—the panelists noted that one of the strongest reasons for ongoing reconciliation of data between companies and regulators is that clean data will help everyone avoid the cost of unnecessary surveys.
- The regulators agreed that issues identified with the potential of harming additional numbers of consumers will be looked at more carefully than a single-complaint issue. Since most departments of insurance have regular meetings, companies should know when those meetings are scheduled and consider having a voice at the meetings to provide a heads’ up on larger issues.
- Companies that are engaged on an ongoing manner with regulators will have a better chance of having their story shared. Equally important, companies with an ongoing dialogue with regulators will have a better chance to deploy long-term solutions developed to solve systemic issues—benefiting both the consumer and the company.
When corporate or regulator analysts identify anomalies, additional reviews are typically initiated to isolate and resolve those anomalies. It was noted that a single complaint (that is out of the ordinary) could escalate to market conduct exams, review, restitution and more. Regulators encouraged companies to simply reach out and talk about identified issues—even if something happens in another state. Regulators work to analyze all data to determine what level of escalation or review is necessary—working with the carriers will make analysis more productive for regulator, carrier and consumer.
Role of NAIC
State departments of insurance do, in fact, talk to each other and will work with NAIC. State DOIs will review multi-state companies OR the same complaint in multiple states to identify national-impact action items. Any state DOI can refer a single issue or a single company to the Market Action Working Group (NAIC committee for review) for more review. This regulator-only group provides intense review of a specific issue or company. And, yet again, complaints are a critical component of this process.
The regulators completed the session with a quick-hit list of best practices for companies to consider. Here’s a list of their favorite things:
- Get the information right
- Submit information in timely fashion
- Make sure coding is right—use NAIC or state-required definitions for defining complaints
- Centralize complaint function
- Know what the public knows—make sure someone is looking at the same information that that others do—regulators, social media, your consumers