Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Covering insurance: Resources and sources

August 30, 2011

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Firefighters work to put out a warehouse fire at Naval Station Norfolk. Photo: Brien Aho

The good news about the insurance beat is that there are many sources of information among regulators, industry groups, consumer groups, ratings agencies, researchers and trade publications.

You don’t have to decipher rate filings or market-conduct exams alone. However, be aware of the biases that each party might bring to bear on an issue and seek multiple interpretations on contentious topics. Here are some of those sources, including contact information for many:

REGULATORY

  • National Association of Insurance Commissioners, nonprofit organization of state insurance regulators. Acts as a national repository of state insurance financial filings, publishes detailed industry statistics, and with input from those regulated, drafts model laws and regulations. State regulators and staff constitute myriad task forces and work groups with NAIC staff assistance, marked by quarterly meetings and monthly dial-in “chorus calls.” Public access sites provide basic insurance financial status and complaint reports and pay-for-view detailed financial reports. Media may have access to documents, reports and chorus calls. Some NAIC meetings remain closed. Executive director Terri Vaughan, 202-471-3990. State commissioners take turns on board. Communications division 816-783.8909 and news@naic.org.
  • Center for Insurance Policy and Research, Washington-based policy arm of the NAIC; provides comment on federal insurance regulatory proposals. 202-471-3990
  • InsData, NAIC’s pay-for-view access to detailed annual and quarterly financial filings of state-regulated insurers. Prices range from $10 to $30 per document, but the NAIC media affairs office will sometimes waive charges. The first five are free with a new registration.
  • STATE REGULATORS National Council of Insurance Legislators, nonprofit policy group through which state legislators on insurance-related committees draft model legislation, take positions on national policy. Executive director Susan Nolan, 518-687-0178 or by info@ncoil.org; Washington office 202-220-3014

Consult the NAIC jurisdiction map. Common online and/or electronic services to seek out: rate filings, policy and exposure data, financial and market-conduct exams, consumer complaints, policy-form changes, rate-comparison charts.

STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATES

Filling sandbags
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, residents prepared for June 2008 flooding. Photo: Don Becker, USGS

CONSUMER

  • State Public Interest Research Groups
  • Center for Economic Justice, Texas-based organization focused on serving minority and low-income consumers on issues of insurance, credit, utilities and other economic products. Birny Birnbaum, executive director,  512‐912‐1327.
  • Consumer Federation of America, 202-737-0766 or cfa@consumerfed.org. Its director of insurance is Bob Hunter, former Texas insurance commissioner and former director of the National Flood Insurance Program. 207-864-3953; 703‐528‐0062
  • Consumer Watchdog, California-based consumer-protection organization formed in 1985 by Proposition 103 author Harvey Rosenfield. Specializes in medical insurance, managed care and malpractice issues. President Jamie Court; Executive Director Douglas Heller. Contact: 310-392-0522. Office also in D.C.
  • Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine-based organization on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners board. Executive Director Joseph Ditre, 207-622-7083 or jditre@mainecahc.org.
  • United Policyholders, San Francisco-based consumer group. Executive Director Amy Bach, 415-393-9990, and amy@uphelp.org.

STATE-BASED CONSUMER GROUPS

INDUSTRY GROUPS

  • American Academy of Actuaries represents and unites U.S. actuaries from all practice areas. Assistant director of communications is Andrew Simonelli, 202-785-7872 or simonelli@actuary.org.
  • America’s Health Insurance Plans (Health Insurance Association of America), national trade association representing the health insurance industry. Vice President of Communications Susan Pisano and Press Secretary Robert Zirkelbach, 202-778-3200, or Press@ahip.org.
  • American Insurance Association, national trade organization for property-casualty insurance companies, with more than 300 member companies. Based in Washington. Federal issues contacts Blain Rethmeier, 202-828-7132 or brethmeier@aiadc.org; Willem Rijksen, 202-828-7139 or wrijksen@aiadc.org; Katie Kimball, 202-828-7129 or kkimball@aiadc.org.
  • Insurance Information Institute, insurance industry-funded organization produces white papers on issues and publications, as well as a media guide. The III also privately drafts talking points and strategy plans for the industry. President Robert Hartwig. On Twitter @iiiorg. National press office in New York, Loretta Worters  212- 346-5500 or media@iii.org. Florida media contact Lynne McChristian at 813-480-6446 or at lynnem@iii.org; Regional media contact Bill Davis by cell 770-331-9279 or at billjoe@bellsouth.net.
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Virginia-based research organization funded by auto insurance companies, focused on reducing losses in lives and insured property from crashes on national highways. Affiliate the Highway Loss Data Institute conducts research using access to industry data. Communications Vice President Russ Rader at 703-247-1500 or rrader@iihs.org.
  • Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, Florida-based, research-and-advocacy organization funded by the insurance industry to reduce natural disaster and windstorm losses to homes. Media contact Joe King at 813-675-1045 and cell 813-442-2845 or jking@ibhs.org.
  • Insurance Services Office, trade bureau through which insurance companies share claims and loss data, which ISO uses to create actuarial-rating tables for use in rate filings, policy forms and underwriting guidelines. Also a source of statistics, research and analysis about the insurance industry. Assistant Vice President for Financial Analysis Michael R. Murray, 210-469-2339; Outside media handled by MMM Group’s Susan Kenney and Jessica Riccardi, 201-507-9500 or skenney@mww.com or jriccardi@mww.com.
  • National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos., based in Indiana, represents policyholder-owned mutuals such as State Farm. State media contact Lisa Floreancig in Indianapolis at 317-875-5250 or federal media contact Matt Brady in Washington 202-628-1558.
  • National Insurance Crime Bureau, trade bureau through which insurance companies file and investigate suspected cases of insurance fraud. Supported by nearly 1,100 property and casualty insurers and self-insured organizations. Director of Public Affairs Frank Scafidi, 916-979-1510 or fscafidi@nicb.org.
  • Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, President David Sampson. Media contact Cliston Brown, 847-553-3671.
  • Risk and Insurance Management Society, daily risk, insurance and benefits news, searchable databases, legislative updates, professional advancement, student center, public record searches for risk managers.  Based in New York, 212-286-9292.
  • Reinsurance Association of America, trade and advocacy organization for reinsurers and brokers that underwrite the insurance risks in the United States. International membership includes Munich Re of Germany and Renaissance Re of Bermuda. General media inquiries: Barbara Carroll, 202-783-8390 or  carroll@reinsurance.org.
  • Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, represents reinsurers and insurers based in Bermuda but mostly doing business in the United States. New York contact Brad Kading, president and executive director, 202-783-2434. Shares New York address of Reinsurance Association of America.

RATING AGENCIES

AGENTS

RESEARCH

  • Insurance and Risk Management Department, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, 215-898-7761.
  • Brenda J. Cude, consumer representative on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, University of Georgia, 706-542-4857.
  • Sabrina Corlette, research professor at Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, 202-687-0880 or sc732@georgetown.edu.
  • Brendan M. Bridgeland, director, Center for Insurance Research, based in Cambridge. 781-405-4809 or insuranceresearch@comcast.net.
  • Peter Kochenburger, executive director of the Insurance Law Center, University of Connecticut School of Law; former counsel for Travelers Insurance. 860-570-5177 or peter.kochenburger@law.uconn.edu.
  • Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, Texas. 512-320-0222, ext. 117, or pogue@cppp.org.

READINGS

Quarterly earnings calls:

Retrieve free transcripts of earnings phone calls among company executives and industry analysts at SeekingAlpha.com/tag/transcripts. Its homepage is also a good general business news aggregation site; check out the Market Currents blog. Also try Morningstar.com/earnings. Earnings-call transcripts not available for free through Google searches can usually be found at a charge at ALACRA.com.

Trade and business publications:

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