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Latest Insurance Regulatory Examiners’ Training Focuses on Consumer Protections, Regulations and Technology

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It is hard to believe that the Insurance Regulatory Examiners Society (IRES) Foundation School on Market Regulation was one month ago already. A hearty round of applause is owed to my fellow Foundation Board members and all of the leadership and staff who work diligently year-round to coordinate this hallmark event, one which continues to inform and foster productive business relationships between regulators and industry in their service to the consumer.

As I look back on the event, it stayed true to its commitment to “Necessary Knowledge – Valuable Networking” through these key themes:

  • Building relationships
  • Maintaining trust
  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Protecting the consumer

Keynote: Prioritize Consumer Protection

Director Evan G. Daniels, who heads the Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions, set this tone right from the outset during the keynote address. In it, he said that “Consumer protection is not just up to government agencies – it’s everyone, the industry people included.” He went on to talk about the common enemies around fraud – no one likes it, it’s against the law, and it negatively impacts cost and other areas. He promoted furthering collaboration to enhance the experience for the consumer.

It seems wholly appropriate to understand the background he brings to his role, to which he was appointed in July 2020. Before his appointment, he served as Chief Counsel of the Technology, Innovation and Privacy Unit at the Office of Arizona Attorney General. Director Daniels has extensive experience in innovation policy, fintech, consumer protection, government affairs, and data privacy. At the Attorney General’s Office, Director Daniels managed several teams engaged in litigation, investigations, and providing subject matter expertise, including oversight of Arizona’s first-in-the-nation regulatory “sandbox” for fintech, which since has been recognized as a national model that several other states have enacted.

Director Daniels also sits on the Innovation Cybersecurity and Technology (H) Committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC. The NAIC provides expertise, data, and analysis for insurance commissioners to effectively regulate the industry and protect consumers. Notably, the mission of the H committee is for regulators to learn and stay current with technology advances and develop statutory, regulatory or guidance updates as needed.

On Innovation, Technology and Digital Transformation

Innovation came up repeatedly throughout the event and was discussed in depth during the InsureTech P&C session moderated by Scott Whitaker of Perr & Knight. People and companies that do not necessarily come from the insurance industry are applying technology in unique ways so the technology is way ahead of the laws on the books requiring judgment and flexibility from industry and regulators alike.

Of particular interest were comments made by Marty Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Buckle. Marty confessed that he is not from the insurance industry but drew a parallel to his background in the ‘close cousin’ credit markets space. He talked about using ‘technology to do things better, faster and cheaper’ but recognized you can’t take on the JPMC’s and State Farms because they require enormous amounts of scale. Focus on closing coverage gaps and improving on existing products. Marty proudly professed that “Buckle and the gig economy are the future of non-standard auto.”

The session also talked about how legacy insurance companies are trying to digitally transform. At Naehas, we work with insurance companies, banks and wealth management firms – all operating in highly-regulated industries, so this resonated. And here’s why: because in nearly every company we hear of a “digital transformation” initiative that is focused on technology-driven solutions to improve products, processes, and access to customers.

Spotlight on IRES and its Foundation

The importance of collaboration and connection through professional organizations is often overlooked. I submit that, most especially in these challenging times, they are more relevant than ever. Associations like the IRES Foundation are increasingly valuable to those working in regulated industries, and the IRES and the Foundation are no exception. As a proud member of the Foundation Board, it is with pride and commitment that I participate in its programs, and serve its leadership and participants.

IRES Foundation: Necessary Knowledge, Valuable Networking

Here’s an important summary of IRES, its Foundation and overall mission.

The IRES Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation and educational trust pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation’s Board is composed of volunteers, many of whom are former regulators, from the insurance and related industries who are committed to fostering an effective insurance marketplace in the United States through education, dialogue and outreach. The Foundation’s mission is to promote professionalism and education in the U.S. insurance regulatory community and to educate the private sector about state insurance regulation. It does this by funding educational and training programs through grants to qualifying organizations.

Worth noting is the mission and history of the organization, as shared on the IRES website.

The public decided long ago that fair, firm, honest insurance regulation is in everybody’s interest. The job of protecting consumers and preserving a robust, competitive marketplace was delegated to the states, where individual state insurance departments have built a strong and enduring foundation upon which all insurance now thrives. The Insurance Regulatory Examiners Society (IRES) is an important part of that foundation.

For its part, IRES was established in 1987 as a nonprofit organization incorporated in the State of Missouri operating in accordance with its Articles of Incorporation and its bylaws under the guidance of its Board of Directors. IRES works to enhance the efforts of insurance regulators by ensuring professionalism and integrity among the men and women who serve with state or federal insurance regulatory bodies.

To help achieve its objectives, IRES adopted a Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics on July 9, 1990. IRES has also established a professional designation program designed to demonstrate the Society’s belief that insurance regulators, like other professionals, must continually commit themselves to education and training in order to stay abreast of the complex issues. The professional designation program consists of four nationally recognized professional designations. State insurance departments and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) formally recognize the professional designations developed and awarded by the Insurance Regulatory Examiners Society:

  • Accredited Insurance Examiner (AIE®)
  • Certified Insurance Examiner (CIE®)
  • Certified Insurance Consumer Service Representative (CICSR®)
  • Market Conduct Management (MCM®)
  • Advanced Market Conduct Management (AMCM®)
  • AIE® and CIE®

IRES sponsors an annual Career Development Seminar (CDS) to help insurance regulators from all areas of expertise keep informed on issues and topics with which they deal every day.

For those who are not yet familiar with, or members of IRES and IRESF, I’m hopeful this overview encourages your own involvement and support. Whether this valuable organization or another that aligns with your profession, committing time and talent to associations is a tremendous way to stay informed and connected with issues, news and individuals that help empower the work we all do as leaders and learners.

Connecting for Resources and Regulatory Readiness

Industry events like that which IRES hosted are one of many reasons why I so enjoy collaborating with our clients and partners to solve complex issues they face. and – much like associations and events and networking opportunities – offering solutions and resources. Updating colleagues on trends and technology solutions is an important obligation we all share. The Naehas Resource Center is available to enhance awareness and understanding of critical ways technology is positively impacting businesses in these regulated industries.

As insurance companies continue to seek and find best practices for regulatory compliance, including disclosures and ad reviews, while continuing initiatives toward digital transformation, I’ll be sharing more articles and recommendations on ways to reduce risk and drive revenue. And I’ll look forward to staying connected with colleagues, compliance teams and regulatory solutions. In the meantime, stay in contact, stay informed, and stay well.

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