Don’t trust the peasants to elect their own insurance commissioner! At least that is what the insurance lobbyists, insurance company executives, and many of our own elected politicians seem to agree upon. Yet, insurance is one of the most significant expenses that impacts people’s lives outside of taxes.

Only twelve states have elected insurance commissioners. It is truly a form of regulation without elected representation.

Floridians elect representatives that determine taxes, property tax values, tax collectors, school board members, members of the soil and water conservation district, and a host of other elected officials, but not the person responsible for setting approved insurance rates and approved forms for all types of insurance. It is very odd that the industry allowed by law to exist in a state to “serve the public trust,” does not have an elected insurance commissioner.

A Florida Senate Joint Resolution would change this:

A joint resolution proposing amendments to Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV and the creation of a new section in Article XII of the State Constitution to establish the position of Commissioner of Insurance as a statewide elected officer and to provide for the commissioner’s inclusion on the Cabinet.

Whether or not the resolution passes this session, a dialogue should be taking place in all the other 38 states with no elected insurance commissioner. When we pay so much for insurance, there is no logical reason that we have this official position as one not elected by the people.

Thought For The Day

Elections remind us not only of the rights but the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy.
—Robert Kennedy

  • shirley heflin

    Dear Chip:

    I could be wrong but Floridians have pushed before to have their Insurance Commissioner elected and – to date – it has not happened. As you point out, we elect officials regarding property taxes, sales taxes, school boards, etc., and it seems only logical that Florida’s Insurance Commissioner should be elected as well!

    Anyone that follows the “world of insurance” knows why this hasn’t happened: Insurance companies and their million dollar lobbyists do NOT want to be told what to do by an elected official sitting on the State of Florida’s Cabinet. They do not want to be legislated or regulated. Insurance companies like things just the way they are. It is up to Florida’s citizens, however, to keep pushing to have their Insurance Commissioner elected!

    Respectfully,
    SHIRLEY HEFLIN
    Tampa, FL

    • Bruce Holmes

      Hey,

      I would run :-)

  • Bill Newton

    This usually comes up when insurers are misbehaving badly and is a threat. It often works. They are a little out of hand right now, so… But the real question here is not how this affects insurance, but how it affects the Cabinet. The proposal would put the Insurance Commissioner on the Cabinet along with the CFO, and bring the Cabinet to 5, perhaps convenient, but would further dilute each vote.
    An even larger concern is that the insurance companies would, of course, buy the position with all their money and have a Cabinet vote making them very powerful. Currently, they have to content themselves with legislators or committee chairs, maybe even some significant influence with the Gov, but a Cabinet seat is a lot of power, and on all kinds of issues. I think we’ve seen it’s better to have a professional commissioner that has to pass the somewhat strict test now in the Constitution. Both the Gov and the CFO must agree on a Commish, and that isn’t always easy. As consumer advocates, we will push for better more consumer focused Commissioners, and threaten election only when they forget who they work for.
    — Bill Newton, Florida Consumer Action Network