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Last week, IBA West met with California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and his senior staff for the first time since Jones took office in January.
Attending the meeting on behalf of IBA West was Tim Manaka, Jr., President; Clark Payan, CEO; Steve Young, General Counsel; and John Norwood, legislative advocate.
Joining Commissioner Jones in the meeting was his senior management team, including Adam Cole, CDI General Counsel; Nettie Hoge, Chief Deputy Commissioner; senior staff attorneys Jon Tomashof, Jill Jacobi and Chris Citko; Keith Kuzmich, head of the producer licensing bureau; Michael Martinez, Deputy Commissioner and Legislative Director; Janice Rocco, Deputy Commissioner for Health Policy; and Geoff Margolis, Deputy Commissioner and Special Counsel.
The primary purpose of the meeting was to introduce IBA West to the Commissioner, and to express the tremendous value independent agents and brokers add to the California insurance marketplace as well as the association’s desire to work closely with the Commissioner and his department.
The hour-long discussion covered several topics, and included:
· IBA West recommended the California Department of Insurance take a leadership role within the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in supporting “NARAB II,” a bill now pending in Congress that would strengthen the state-based regulatory system but provide for greater access to non-resident licensure.
· IBA West expressed concern about the harsh impact of the medical loss ratios in new federal healthcare reforms which have had the effect of reducing health insurance commissions and threatening the ability of health agents to continue providing benefits coverages and related services to California employers.
· IBA West expressed support for AB 228, a bill now pending in the California Legislature that would permit the State Compensation Insurance Fund to provide incidental workers’ compensation coverage for California employers doing business in other states.
· IBA West presented producers’ concerns about escalating combined ratios in workers’ compensation in California and the need for regulatory diligence to prevent a repetition of the insolvencies that occurred in the wake of the repeal of the minimum rate law several years ago.
· IBA West also expressed concerns over the need for regulation to ensure a “level playing field” with potential “navigators” who will be selling policies for the new insurance exchanges that will be created as part of the federal healthcare reform law. Including whether CDI will have any regulatory authority over such individuals and whether they will be required to obtain a health insurance license and meet any of the requirements that CDI current requires health agents to satisfy.
IBA West leaders felt the meeting was productive and expressed their optimism that despite some differences, IBA West would strive to work together with the Commissioner and his staff to improve the California insurance marketplace for broker/agents and their clients.