The world of insurance regulation is largely ignored and unpublicized, yet these hugely powerful state offices impact nearly every American by determining the rates they pay for auto, home and health insurance. An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity’s Michael J. Mishak uncovered the cozy relationships between state insurance commissioners and the industry they regulate.
The project documented the extent of the revolving door where jobs are sought over lunches and dinners while commissioners are still in office. It mapped the financial ties regulators have to the insurers they oversee while their government offices are underfunded and understaffed. And, it showed how these tight bonds diminish consumers’ voices as insurers press rate increases, shape regulations and scuttle investigations.
The project found:
The project provided resources for others to shine a light on their state commissioners. It included a digital library with the most recent financial disclosures for 41 insurance commissioners from around the country — the first of its kind to be made publicly available. It also highlighted metrics on each state’s staffing and funding of their insurance oversight departments. The Center for Public Integrity shared the findings with more than 200 state government reporters and editors around the country so they could augment their own reporting.
The work prompted immediate reactions after the first installment appeared on the front page of The Washington Post. It was cited widely by other news sources, including Politico, the Hartford Courant and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Des Moines Register wrote an editorial calling on the Iowa Legislature to tighten conflict of interest laws there in response to the work.
We appreciate your consideration of this in-depth reporting on the insurance industry’s close ties to these immensely powerful yet little-known regulators.