Biden administration priorities, NAIC direction, diversifying the talent pipeline in the insurance space and the insurance industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic were among the issues covered during the 16th annual Networks Financial Institute (NFI) virtual Insurance Public Policy Summit, co-hosted by Faegre Drinker and Indiana State University on April 7, 2021.
The Summit provided a venue for young professionals and students to learn about the pressing public policy issues in the insurance space. Indiana State University President Deborah Curtis highlighted the NFI and its role in financial services and risk management research, education and policy. Participants also heard a discussion between Scott College of Business Dean Terry Daugherty and Senior Gongaware and NFI Scholar Ellei Kay on how the NFI contributed to her academic experience and prepared her for a career as an insurance actuary. The Summit concluded with Executive Director of Government Relations & University Communications Greg Goode discussing the impact of the NFI on the Indiana State student community.
In a virtual welcome to D.C., Commissioner of the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) Karima Woods provided a candid overview of DISB’s priorities for 2021:
NAIC and federal engagement on international relations, race and insurance and transparency in big data and artificial intelligence
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), new member of the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance, engaged in a lively Q&A session with Senior Vice President and Head of Government Affairs for Athene Tracey Laws.
In his opening statement, Hollingsworth stressed the importance of preserving the state-based system of insurance regulation. Laws and the congressman talked infrastructure, COVID-19 and flood insurance, to name a few topics:
The congressman also prognosticated that it’s unlikely the NFIP will receive a long-term extension this year, calling it a geographical issue in Congress (and not a partisan one).
National Association of Insurance Commissioners CEO Mike Consedine, and Associate Director, Division of Supervision and Regulation, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System Tom Sullivan covered a wide range of topics, including the IAIS Insurance Capital Standard (ICS), the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging risks of climate change. Faegre Drinker Partner Sara Manske led the dynamic panel discussion.
The virtual environment didn’t stop our NFI Summit tradition of past NAIC presidents interviewing current NAIC presidents! President and CEO of the American College of Financial Services and former NAIC president George Nichols III interviewed new NAIC President and Florida Office of Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier for the Summit’s keynote address. In a candid and warm conversation, Nichols and Altmaier reflected on the last year and spoke about the NAIC’s priorities for this year. Altmaier commented at the outset that while NAIC sets its priorities each year, 2020 was a great example of why it’s important for the NAIC to be nimble. Here are some highlights from the discussion:
Altmaier said the NAIC will be sure to demonstrate progress in conversations related to big data, artificial intelligence, consumer privacy and developments in the health care space.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges and opportunities for the insurance industry, and representatives from life insurance and property and casualty insurance companies shared their perspectives and lessons learned so far. Faegre Drinker Partner Sulema Medrano Novak facilitated an engaging discussion among Allstate Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel David Nadig, Allianz Senior Vice President and General Counsel Gretchen Cepek and Pacific Life Senior Vice President of Government Relations Jenn Webb. Panelists identified several areas where the industry appears aligned as a whole:
As the industry continues its work digitally, the use of accelerated underwriting and advances in technology were identified as important considerations as companies evaluate how to provide access to more people.
Faegre Drinker Chief Diversity Officer Maria L.H. Lewis, spoke with Equitable Chief Legal Officer José Ramón González, American Council of Life Insurers Vice President of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Olivia Gillis and Indiana State University Career Services Director Tradara McLaurine about the ways educators and the insurance industry can work together to foster diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
Where we’ve been and where we’re going. The panelists acknowledged that the insurance industry has traditionally struggled with diversity, but that there are positive signs on the horizon. McLaurine stressed that the best way to grow the pipeline of talent from underrepresented communities is to ensure students understand the value and importance of insurance products. González stated that it is essential to consider diverse pools of candidates for positions within companies.
Partnerships. Gillis discussed the various organizations that ACLI has partnered with to promote DEI initiatives, including the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors’ efforts to promote financial awareness in underserved areas and Everfi’s work in promoting diversity and inclusion training.
Retention. The panelists agreed that companies need to sponsor and mentor young candidates from marginalized communities to foster growth and retention. Lewis noted that employers should look beyond gender and ethnicity, focusing also on generational diversity to ensure a workplace is truly inclusive.