Regulator Showcase

As always, one of the most valuable elements of the Exchange is the formal and informal interaction between carriers and regulators.  Proving always the professionalism of the entire group, this unique regulator showcase was structured as a panel entitled, Ask the Regulator.  This session maximized the opportunity for a professional exchange between regulators and carriers.  The result?  Well, not quite a roast, but more than a conversation with lots of professional give-and-take of recommendations, best practices, and respectful requests in the discussion.

Start your engines
Just to get things going, Gerard O’Sullivan, Director of Consumer Affairs, Connecticut Insurance Department asked the other panelists (Valerie Brown, Director of Complaints Resolution, Texas Department of Insurance and Leslie Krier, Market Oversight Manager, State of Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner, what was on their alert lists for the future.  Goodness.  Here are the highlights:

  • Rideshare programs—driving for money may trigger insurance issues.
  • Implementation of ACA—anticipating escalating complaints when open enrollment begins, and stronger collaboration with federal entities.
  • Multi-state activities—carriers working with one entity not multiple.
  • Elections—changes in legislature mean changes in DOIs’ foci.
  • Interaction with health care providers—working to make sure providers are looped into the ACA because health care is changing in addition to insurance.
  • Relationships—ongoing departmental priority to establish and maintain professional relationships with exchange carriers—relationships are important to help resolve consumer issues.
  • Universal life/long term care/annuities—need to work with carriers and producers to use better language to help consumers.

And on to the questions
Mr. O’Sullivan reviewed the questions submitted by participants prior to the session and asked panelists to respond—which they did with knowledge, professionalism and more than a dash of humor.  The top attention-getters?

Q:  What is the mindset of regulators in terms of use of social media?

  • If used as advertising, comply with advertising statutes.
  • Many states don’t have exact information, use common sense.

Q.  If a complaint is on a completed satisfaction survey, should it be logged as a complaint?

  • Yes, that’s a complaint.

Q:  Can you provide clarification for response timelines?

  • Every state is different.
  • If any carrier has a good reason, ask for an extension—but do not abuse the privilege.
  • Work together because an extension is better than a fine.

Q:  Would DOIs ever consider using more than one contact per company (by line of business)

  • Not really, DOIs prefer one contact person—then the issue can be sorted by the company, not the DOI trying to navigate through the company.
  • Strongly recommend a general email box that multiple responsible persons can access—prevents delay in resolution.

Q:  How can carriers work with DOIs to share confidential information (not shared with the consumer?)

  • Again, different by state—some states cannot honor that request.
  • Note items as confidential work product; regulators will ensure confidentiality unless determined by law that information can be shared.
  • Some information may require an injunction to stop information flow.
  • Some items can be redacted in terms of health care, attorney-client privilege.
  • Some states consider information a matter of public record, others do not.  Some states will remove sensitive items from any public records request.

Q:  What would make regulators’ lives easier?

  • Try to work through all questions asked by the consumer—even if the questions seem to ramble.
  • Let regulators know about issues as soon as possible—pick up the phone (includes system issues so regulators can be part of the solution).
  • In some states, self-reporting may provide some carrier protection from certain enforcement possibilities.

To sum it all up
Working together is the best, most productive, way to ensure consumers are protected. Regulators present encouraged carriers present to pick up the phone and seek opportunities to engage in conversation—everyone wins.

Valerie Brown
Director, Complaints Resolution
Texas Department of Insurance
333 Guadalupe Street
Austin, TX  78701

Leslie Krier
Market Conduct Oversight Manager
State of Washington, Office of Insurance Commissioner
PO Box 40259
Olympia, WA  98504


Gerard O’Sullivan
Director, Consumer Affairs
Connecticut Insurance Department
PO Box 816
Hartford, CT  06370

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