Lawmaker: Four Term Elected Member of the Florida House of Representatives. I recently served as an Elected Member of the Florida House of Representatives. I was Elected to the Florida House from Palm Beach County in 2010, Re-elected in 2012 and in 2014 and in 2016 and served until January of 2109, when, under Florida law, I was term limited out.
During the entire eight years at the Florida House, I served as a Member of the Insurance Committee and served as well as Vice Chair of the Insurance Committee and served as well on the upstream parent of the Insurance Committee, namely the Commerce Committee. All insurance bills must ultimately pass through the Commerce Committee.
Florida is an insurance intensive state for all kinds of reasons, meaning most all key insurance issues were considered or addressed during my service and were handled either by me directly (along with the balance of the Committee, of course) or by other Members of the Committee or by the Insurance Committee operating as a whole. My work in this regard included sponsoring and co-sponsoring insurance and reinsurance legislation; presenting such legislation to the Insurance Committee and to the upstream parent committee, namely the Commerce Committee and presenting the bill before the entire House of Representatives. I also participated in hearings either as Vice Chair (and Chairing the hearings) or as a participating Member, inquiring of those proposing the legislation.
In all of this, I have become very familiar with and possess an clear understanding of legislation and of construing insurance legislation and have become as well, very familiar with the role of the legislature (regardless of the state) as to insurance matters and the role of Insurance Regulators as to legislation and as to the balance of the regulators’ obligations, based both on this Florida experience and based as well on having served previously as Iowa’s Commissioner of Insurance.
1. Expertise as to Crop Insurance and Their Agents.
A. Crop Insurance Expertise as an Insurance Regulator. I have had extensive and substantive experience relating directly to crop insurance policies including interpreting policy language and determining the insurer’s obligations under such policies. As a regulator for eight years in three positions ((i) Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Department of Insurance (Iowa), (ii) First Deputy Commissioner of Insurance and (iii) Commissioner of Insurance), along with my staff, I approved (or disapproved) of the language of crop insurance policies used by many of the 1,000 property casualty insurance companies doing business in the state. This regulatory action also included the approval of most all policy application forms and policy forms themselves in use today. In addition, I regularly served as an Administrative Law Judge in matters relating directly to crop insurance policies. Along these lines, it is recognized that the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation has significant relevance to any discussion relating to crop insurance.
B. Crop Insurance Policy Expertise: NAIC. While Commissioner, I also served as a member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”), (including membership on its Executive Committee), the nationwide organization of all state insurance commissioners. That organization has responsibilities for establishing model insurance administrative regulations and model statutes for consideration by all of the states. While with the NAIC, I served among other things as:
- Chair of the Midwest Zone. I was elected to this position by my fellow Insurance Commissioners from this zone (composed of the Midwest states) to provide leadership before the balance of the states.
- Member of the Executive Committee. As a member of the Executive Committee, in effect the steering committee of the NAIC, I provided leadership organization wide. The Executive Committee had direct oversight of the Property Casualty Committee, which was responsible for issues like those under consideration here, including crop insurance matters;
- Member, Commercial Lines Committee. This Committee exercised national oversight of the functioning of commercial lines insurance.
C. Crop Insurance Policy Expertise: American Academy of Actuaries. Along these same lines, I served as general counsel and chief lobbyist to the American Academy of Actuaries, Washington, D.C. The Academy is the national professional association for actuaries. These professionals establish premium levels for policies. In addition, because policy language dictates premium levels, actuaries are also active in determining policy language.
D. Crop Insurance Policy Expertise: CEO of A Major US Insurance Entity. After serving as a regulator, I served as President and Chief Executive Officer for the National Council on Compensation Insurance (“NCCI”), New York City, a nationwide industry owned organization with about 1,500 employees with annual revenues of about $150 million that did (and does) business in about 40 states. NCCI was domiciled in Florida and did business throughout most of the United States.
This means that while I was CEO, NCCI was subject to the full authority of the various states’ Departments of Insurance (“DOIs’) and subject as well to the various state Insurance Codes as well as the jurisdiction of all such states’ courts, state and federal.
Among my responsibilities at NCCI was (together with my staff) to formulate all workers compensation insurance policy forms as used in our 40 states of operation. This work included drafting all policy language (tailored to the specific state’s insurance code) as well as drafting all endorsements and all other policy forms. In addition, my responsibilities included gaining state insurance department approval of all such policy forms as a condition precedent to their use as submitted by some 600 insurance companies. Finally, I note that among others, the life insurance benefit under workers compensation is an important coverage. I am very familiar with the meaning and relevance of specific state approval of policy forms, endorsements and applications and related documents and matters.
E. Crop Insurance Policy Expertise: Reinsurance Arbitrator. I am also one of about 200 certified reinsurance arbitrators (by ARIAS-US) and have sat as an arbitrator on property casualty insurance issues in disputes about policy language between reinsurers and their insurers.
Watch insurance expert Bill Hager discuss crop insurance issues.
2. Expertise as to Duties of Crop Insurance Companies Including Claim Settlement Obligations.
A. Expertise as to Duties of Crop Insurance Companies As Commissioner of Insurance. I have also had significant experience and responsibility in connection with determining and passing judgment on insurers’ responsibilities as to insurance agents and insurers claim settlement duties. In particular, in my three regulatory positions previously described, I had daily responsibility to assure and to hold accountable all of the state’s 1,000 property casualty insurers, many of whom wrote crop insurance, for their related obligations, inclusive of claim settlement obligations. I did so through a series of action steps and tools. The action steps and tools included the following:
1. Crop Insurance: Unfair Claims Settlement Act. Like most every other state, Iowa enacted the model NAIC Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act (“UCSA”) which set forth standards against which the Insurance Commissioner could pass judgment on a property and casualty insurer’s claims settlement practices. As Commissioner and as First Deputy and earlier as Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Department, I had daily responsibility to enforce this act and assure all insurance companies were in compliance with the act. That was the same act as adopted in most every other state in substantially similar form and enforced on regular basis by the DOIs.
2. Crop Insurance: NAIC Market Regulation Handbook. In addition to the standards set out in the UCSA, as Commissioner, I had as an available tool, the NAIC Market Regulation Handbook (“Examiners Handbook” or “Handbook”). This Handbook sets forth standards to assess insurance agent and insurer claim settlement behavior and is used by every department of insurance in the United States. The standards have been universally agreed to by all of the nation’s Commissioners of Insurance as adopted formally by them through the NAIC. The claim settlement standards of the Handbook are universally recognized as appropriate standards against which to judge insurer claim behavior.
3. Crop Insurance: Market Conduct Examination. On a regular basis, my agency conducted Market Conduct Examinations of property insurers utilizing the Examiners Handbook to determine whether in fact the target insurer was meeting all of their claim settlement obligations. This action entailed physically going into the insurers claim operations and studying claim files to determine any errant action or inappropriate claim settlement behavior. As further discussed below, errant insurers were warned, disciplined and prosecuted as required.
4. Crop Insurance: NAIC Financial Examiners Handbook. As Commissioner, I had available another tool, namely the NAIC Financial Examiners Handbook (“Financial Examiners Handbook”). Among other things, the Financial Examiners Handbook sets forth standards to assess property casualty insurer solvency on a triennial basis. Among other documents reviewed by examiners in reaching financial conclusions are agent contracts and policyholder matters. As with the Market Conduct Examiners Handbook, the Financial Examiners Handbook is used by every department of insurance in the United States. Similarly, these standards have been universally agreed to by all of the nation’s Commissioners of Insurance as adopted formally by them through the NAIC. The standards of the Financial Examiners Handbook are universally recognized as appropriate standards against which to judge crop insurer behavior.
5. Crop Insurance: Financial Examinations. On a regular basis, my Department conducted financial examinations of crop insurers utilizing the Financial Examiners Handbook to determine whether in fact the insurer was and was likely to remain solvent. As with market conduct exams, financial examinations entailed physically going into the insurers’ operations and studying, among others, files to (i) assure compliance with agent and policyholder duties and (ii) to assure that financial reporting as to agent and policyholder matters were properly carried out. As further discussed below, errant insurers were warned, disciplined and prosecuted as required.
6. Crop Insurance: Complaints From the Public. On a daily basis, my Department received incoming consumer complaints as to insurance company claim settlement practices. This division was staffed by Department lawyers who resolved the individual complaint but equally importantly, also determined whether an insurer evidenced unacceptable claim settlement practices. That is to say, staff lawyers determined whether the incoming consumer complaints in fact constituted a red flag as to the insurance company’s potential behavior across the board.
7. Prosecution. To the extent insurer behavior required formal action (whether a result of complaints from the public or a result of Department investigation through a Market Conduct Examination), my Department prosecuted such insurers under the state’s civil Administrative Procedures Act. In connection with such prosecutions, I served in various capacities during my eight years as a regulator as (i) prosecutor (as Assistant Attorney General), (ii) as the decision maker as to whether to initiate prosecution in the first instance and (iii) as the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) who presided over the prosecution and defense of the case and entered findings of fact and conclusions of law as to insurer claim settlement practices. I have served as an ALJ in scores of such cases where the insurer’s claim settlement practices in property claim settlement matters were the primary issue and entered final decisions in such matters.
B. Expertise As to Claim Adjustment Duties of Crop Insurance Companies From the Perspective of an Industry Executive. In addition to my experience as a regulator, as reflected above, I have had specific industry experience (in other positions) as to insurer claim settlement practices. Some of those positions included the following:
1. CEO of a Major US Insurance Organization, Regulated Throughout the US; Domiciled in Florida; President and Chief Executive Office of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), 1990 – 1998. I referenced above, under policy expertise, my experience at NCCI. In addition to exposure as to insurance policy forms, this same NCCI experience also provided significant background as to insurer claim settlement obligations.
NCCI: Claim Settlement. In addition, NCCI had a vested interest in member insurer claim practices in that the industry’s reputation for fair underwriting and claim settlement practices ultimately impacted regulatory attitudes toward NCCI’s premium approval process.
NCCI: Industry Standards of Practice. While President and CEO of NCCI, I visited and physically toured and reviewed in excess of 400 insurance companies and gained direct exposure to the procedures and processes and standard industry practices of the U.S. insurance community and its claim settlement practices. I have had extensive exposure to insurer practices and procedures.
2. General Counsel and Director of Government Relations to the American Academy of Actuaries (Washington D.C.), 1980 – 1983. I served as General Counsel and Director of Government Relations for the American Academy of Actuaries, including advising on admissions, discipline, federal antitrust and general corporate law. I represented the 10,000 member professional organization before Congress (e.g., Senate Committees on Banking, Commerce, Finance and Labor, and House committees on Education, Labor, Energy, and Ways and Means) and the various federal regulatory agencies.
Crop Insurance. The Academy is the professional organization of actuaries and includes qualified actuaries from all disciplines and all forms of insurers. Academy members included affiliation with virtually every commercial property insurance company in America, including crop insurers. Such actuaries had duties relating to policy language and policy pricing. The Academy’s Board of Directors was likewise made up of leading insurance company executives from such property companies.
3. Attorney in Private Practice. As an attorney in private practice, I represented a number of agent and insurer interests and became familiar with applicable regulatory and industry claim settlement standards. Those interests also included intimate involvement with commercial property insurance, as counsel to the
- Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (“PCIAA,” many of whom sold crop insurance);
- Professional Insurance Agents of Iowa (property casualty insurance agents, including crop insurance agents); and
- Iowa Association of Life Underwriters (life, health and annuity insurance agents);
Specific duties as counsel at both the Professional Insurance Agents of Iowa (who sold, among other coverages, commercial property insurance) and the Iowa Association of Life Underwriters (life, health and annuity insurance agents) included in-depth familiarity with commercial property insurers, their agents and their claim settlement practices. Specific duties at the PCIAA included daily counsel to member insurers as to their claim settlement duties.
C. Expertise as to Insurance Agents, Brokers and MGAs.
1. Expertise as to Crop Insurance Agents as a Regulator: Prosecution and CE. I have had full responsibility for continuing education for licensed crop insurance agents (approving CE courses in the first instance for acceptable content; overseeing the administration of such courses and granting and denying credit for such courses). I have initiated agent revocation actions and prosecuted those actions to completion.
2. Expertise as to Crop Insurance Agents as a Regulator: ALJ. I have sat as the Administrative Law Judge in such actions and entered findings of facts and conclusions of law in scores of cases in which agents were prosecuted for violations relating to standards of care in connection with crop insurance matters and I have had direct responsibility for the appointment process by crop insurance companies (some 1,000 crop insurance companies) of all of their crop agents. I have supervised as well the ongoing relationship of all crop insurance companies in the state with all of their appointed agents.
3. Expertise as to Crop Insurance Agents: Legal Representation. As a lawyer, I have defended crop insurance agents and brokers against allegations (in administrative law forums) of violations of their duty of care.
- Crop Insurance Expert Witness
4. Expertise as to Crop Insurance Agents: Industry CEO. As President and Chief Executive Officer of a major Florida domiciled and licensed insurance entity (NCCI) doing business in some 40 states, I have had substantial working relationships with the U.S. insurance agent and agency community.
Contact Bill Hager at 561-306-5072 or via email to discuss your case.