More than 1,700 changes in state insurance regulations occurred in the first half of 2023, up 8% from 2022 at the same time.
The insurance industry is experiencing an increase in regulatory activity this year, with states issuing a significant number of regulations, bulletins, and notices. This increase can be attributed in part to regulator communications concerning the wind-down of COVID-19 measures and the aftermath of the federal emergency. As regulators catch up with the changes that were delayed due to the pandemic, the insurance industry has seen an influx of new regulatory activity. There have already been 1,715 changes in state insurance regulations in the first half of 2023, up 8% from 2022 at the same time. Another factor working against compliance teams is the increasing prevalence of legislative activity coming in the form of so-called omnibus bills. These bills can make it increasingly difficult for compliance teams in insurance companies to keep track of the changes that are made to the law. In this blog post, we will explore some of the key factors driving this heightened regulatory environment and discuss notable developments in the insurance market.
1. Returning to Pre-Pandemic Focus:
State insurance regulation changes have increased this year as regulators address a backlog of changes that were delayed by the pandemic. With all state legislatures in session this year, a heavy volume of enacted legislation is expected, especially since it is a non-election year. Regulators are keen to address the evolving needs of the insurance industry and ensure consumer protection.
2. Climate Risk and Property Insurance Market Fallout:
One of the major factors driving regulatory activity is climate risk and its impact on the property insurance market. Several states have faced significant challenges in stabilizing their property insurance markets:
- Florida has passed a package of bills aimed at shoring up its collapsing property insurance market.
- California has seen major insurers cease writing new property insurance policies in the state.
- Louisiana has initiated a special session to tackle its insurance crisis.
- Texas, too, is grappling with a growing insurance crisis of its own.
These developments highlight the urgent need for regulatory interventions to address the fallout caused by climate-related risks within the insurance industry.
3. Key Areas of Regulatory Focus:
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has identified key regulatory priorities for 2023. These areas reflect the changing landscape of the insurance industry and provide insight into future regulatory actions. Some of the focus areas include:
- Climate Risk and Natural Catastrophe Resiliency
- Race and Insurance, Protection Gaps, and Financial Inclusion
- Long-Term Care
- Insurer Financial Oversight and Transparency
- Marketing of Insurance Products
- Data, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and Innovation
The NAIC’s priorities indicate a proactive approach to address emerging challenges and foster innovation within the insurance sector.
4. Notable Regulatory Actions:
The breakdown below provides a glimpse into the specific areas where regulatory actions are expected. Here are some noteworthy areas of regulatory activity:
- Health Insurance: With the expiration of emergency orders related to COVID-19, there will likely be an uptick in legislative and regulatory changes, including coverage of COVID-19 testing and immunization. Other areas of focus include qualified health plans, mandated benefits, and regulations related to abortion and medical malpractice coverage.
- Property & Casualty: Regulatory actions are expected in areas such as pet insurance, adjuster licensing, consumer protection during catastrophic storms, minimum financial responsibility levels for auto insurance, FAIR plans, climate-related mitigation efforts, and workers’ compensation.
- Life Insurance: The regulatory focus in this sector encompasses suitability, accelerated underwriting, long-term care, genetic testing, and nonforfeiture requirements for index-linked variable annuity products.
- All Lines: The regulatory landscape extends to areas such as producer and adjuster continuing education, big data and AI governance, cybersecurity, premium tax credit programs, and privacy.
5. Increasing Prevalence of Omnibus Bills
Omnibus bills are legislative proposals that cover a wide range of topics and are often used to pass controversial or complex legislation. The trend of omnibus bills passing through state legislatures has been on the rise in recent years. In the first half of 2023, there were several omnibus bills passed by state legislatures that impacted insurers’ ability to keep pace with regulatory change.
These types of bills create challenges for compliance teams in insurance companies. Their relative complexity, ambiguity, and sheer volume of material that must be reviewed result in an increased workload for those tasked with identifying, analyzing and implementing new regulatory requirements. According to Moody’s Analytics, this mode of legislation increases compliance costs and potentially impacts regulatory capital at a time when there are enormous competitive pressures bearing down on the industry.
The increased number of regulations, bulletins, and notices in 2023 reflects the insurance industry’s response to evolving challenges and changing market dynamics. Regulators are striving to protect consumers, address climate-related risks, and promote innovation within the insurance sector. Stakeholders in the industry must stay informed about these regulatory developments to ensure compliance and navigate the changing landscape effectively. By keeping pace with regulatory changes, insurers and other industry participants can better adapt to new requirements and maintain the highest standards of service and consumer protection.
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