PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE AGENTS
NOT A MEMBER JOIN PIA! > > >
Deputy commissioner's keynote address
Deputy Connecticut Insurance Commissioner delivered the keynote address during the awards luncheon, Friday, March 15. Opening her address with a note of appreciation for independent agents in Connecticut, Deputy Commissioner Ann Melissa Dowling, CFA, lauded the work of sales and support that professional agents provide to the state’s insurance buying public.
Dowling reported that Connecticut's Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has a knowledge and passion for insurance that is felt throughout the department. She said the governor understands the insurance business: He "is the smartest I've experienced," she said of the governor, and reported that the relationship and insurance savvy the department enjoys with Gov. Malloy is the envy of other departments with which she has interacted.
Reiterating the governor's message to PIACT during his address at a previous PIACT convention, Dowling reported the insurance department and governor's desire to continue the state's reputation as "the insurance capital of the world."
Recounting the department's international work to maintain state-based regulation, she also discussed Commissioner Thomas Leonardi's work to make Connecticut the first state that attracts the multinational industry and maintains carrier balancing solvency and oversight. "Your state is a leader in the industry," she said. Relaying the commissioner’s desire to ensure transparency and strength while protecting consumers and their choice, she discussed recent steps the department has taken, including hiring a new unit leader to oversee the state’s captive carriers; increasing licensed adjusters (to 6,000) in the aftermath of recent storms; maintaining a strong relationship with the National Flood Insurance Program; working on potential catastrophe remediation processes, similar to those of neighboring states and working with consumers to improve understanding of their policies and their claims experience.
The deputy commissioner discussed the state’s work to enact health care exchanges; its newly branded exchange as “Access Connecticut;” and the nine carriers that have notified the department of their interest in participating in the exchange. As for the role of navigators, she assured the audience that she and all other leaders in the department “never feel it will be appropriate (for navigators to participate in) enrollment, sale of policies without a license.” While she discussed the important role navigators are expected to play in identifying and preventing their communities “from being intimidated from considering obtaining coverage,” she emphasized that “all they are to do is educate” the vulnerable publics with whom they work.
The deputy commissioner also addressed a growing concern about rates in the health insurance industry and confirmed that “rate reform will have a shock impact in 2014.” While she confirmed that “some will see a decrease in their premiums,” she also conceded that the loss of federal subsidies and changes in rate differentials are likely to have a “shocking” impact on employers and their staff. She also assured the audience that the federal medical loss ratio will act as a governor to keep rates in check and that Connecticut will be less affected relative to other states, because it has long required rate reviews, a process other states are just now enacting.
Reiterating the department strives to be as “transparent, fair and consistent” as possible; Deputy Commissioner Dowling said PIA’s input is always appreciated. She encouraged agents, through their association, to “keep coming in,” sharing that while perspectives may differ, PIA “always causes us to think.”
Concluding her address, the commissioner summarized the importance of the industry to the state, including 50,000 jobs and the highest concentration of actuaries in the country. “If Connecticut were a country,” she said, “it would be in the top 10 of written premium in the world.”
As if to punctuate this point, the deputy commissioner closed by reporting that at the same time she was speaking to PIACT, Gov. Malloy and Insurance Commissioner Leonardi were holding a press conference to announce that The Navigators Group Inc., an international specialty insurance holding company, will move its corporate headquarters and additional operations from New York City to Stamford, a move that is expected to create 200 jobs in the state within the next five years.