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David Altmaier at the podium for Opening Session

San Diego, CA (Dec. 13, 2021)

Fall 2021 Opening Session Prepared Remarks

Excerpts from the NAIC 2021 Fall National Meeting Opening Session Transcript: NAIC President and Commissioner, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, David Altmaier.

Good afternoon, I'm NAIC President, and Florida's Commissioner of the office of Insurance Regulation, David Altmaier. I am honored to open the NAIC Fall National Meeting here in beautiful San Diego. Every NAIC meeting is an opportunity for stakeholders within the insurance sector to engage on matters critical to consumers all across our country, and to that end we're glad to welcome several of our Federal partners as well as state legislative partners to San Diego. 

Before I go on, I'd like to take a moment to recognize several of my fellow colleagues who are responding to disasters in their states. We woke up Saturday morning to the devastating news of the impacts from storms and tornadoes across several states, including my home state of Kentucky. Events of this nature underscore the importance of our resiliency efforts and all we do to protect consumers. I am grateful for partnerships such as the ones made here, to support one another in times like these.

As we come to the end of our year-long celebration of the NAIC's 150-year anniversary, I would like to welcome you all to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Fall National Meeting. It is the NAIC's 233rd National Meeting and I know I speak for many when I say it's great to be back in person (and virtually) again. 

Over the course of 150 years, the NAIC has navigated a tremendous amount of change and its ability to adapt is remarkable in so many ways. We have shown time and time again, that the source of strength of our state-based system is the connection between our members, particularly in challenging times. One thing is clear-the grit and perseverance of the NAIC and its members are as strong today as they ever were. These enduring characteristics helped lead us through so many challenges and at the same time guided the industry through an ever-evolving landscape. The NAIC's history is well documented.  For your enjoyment and perhaps, education there's a well-produced 150th anniversary timeline, video, and 150 years' worth of meeting minutes that can be found on naic.org.
 

Let's turn to our accomplishments and challenges in 2021. 

We've been working very hard to respond to a global pandemic and the impacts of COVID-19 for nearly two years now. It has remained Priority One for the NAIC as an important reminder to stay vigilant around these ever evolving risks. But, for a moment, let's consider the big picture. There are many lessons and takeaways from what COVID-19 has presented to us from a regulatory standpoint.  Two are top of mind. The first is, no matter how much preparation we do ahead of time, we always need to be prepared to pivot to meet the next challenge.  And the second - even consumed by what feels to be a never-ending string of crisis situations, we remain focused on our fundamental objectives of consumer protection and market solvency.

That's why thinking outside the box is so critical. But before I talk about what the sector has done well, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the toll COVID has had everywhere. 

The number of U.S. Citizens who perished from the pandemic, this year, surpassed 2020 numbers in November. We've seen an impact on communities and businesses as well.  While we should be proud of our resiliency, we cannot ignore the pain that this pandemic has inflicted.  We also realize that the pandemic may still deliver unexpected twists and turns ahead.  But, as availability of the vaccine and treatments continue to roll-out, we have cause for real optimism. The feeling that we've turned a corner was reflected in the engagement of NAIC members.  

While 2020 was an obstacle course of cancelled meetings and of evolving priorities, in 2021, our membership came together in person for the first time in over a year to discuss important regulatory issues like long-term care insurance, the use of big data, rising cyber risks and the impact of climate and race in exacerbating a protection gap for under-served communities. 

The NAIC also held its first hybrid National Meeting in August of this year in Columbus. I think it's fair to say based on the feedback we received, that we set the bar when it comes to large-scale hybrid events. And our thanks again to Ohio Director Judi French for serving as our host. We look forward to returning one day to Columbus to fully-experience what was an amazing venue.  That meeting served as a great opportunity for us to continue our discussion on NAIC priorities and listen to industry and consumer advocate concerns. 

In response to feedback we received, I am excited that this Fall we have been able to expand our National Meeting to include more working groups and task forces. So, let's return to those two key historical lessons and apply them to our year.I'll let our work speak for itself. We continue to adapt proactively to changing market conditions. 

At this meeting, NAIC members will vote to create the first letter committee since 2004. It is important for members to stay current with the latest innovations and technological advancements. The Innovation, Cybersecurity, and Technology, or H, Committee for short will elevate and unify our long-standing engagement in these areas to ensure that the NAIC continues to aggressively protect consumers while reducing barriers to positive innovation. One of the most significant areas of focus for the new H Committee will be on the industry's use of data, particularly in the context of complex rating and underwriting models. Protecting the consumer's data and privacy and ensuring the sector's appropriate and ethical use of that data is a critical responsibility that all our members take seriously. We look forward to engaging with each other and stakeholders on these important issues in the future.

Another example of our ability to adapt and maintain focus on our core mission of protecting consumers, is the work we are doing as part of our Special Committee on Race and Insurance formed in 2020. During the recent Summer National Meeting we adopted new charges for the committee and delved deeper into workstream deliverables. You will start to see some of that work emerging at this meeting.  As our esteemed Immediate Past President, Ray Farmer, observed when we started this journey a year ago, it is the duty of the insurance sector to address these issues while promoting diversity. We are committed to continuing the journey and completing our work, but this work will take time.  I invite all interested parties to work with us to deliver on this commitment to consumers. 

Let's switch our focus on our work this year to some of the fundamentals critical to our state-based system. Long-term care insurance continues to present challenges for state insurance regulators as we looked for ways to balance the tension between solvency regulation and consumer protection. The Task Force is close to finalizing development of a regulatory framework for a multistate rate review process. Additionally, it appointed a multistate rate review actuarial team, which completed its first regulator-only pilot project. 

Other NAIC groups continue to make progress in achieving their goals related to long-term care including: the Senior Issues Task Force appointed the LTCI Model Update Working Group with the charge to examine the LTCI Model Act and LTCI Model Regulation; The Valuation Analysis Working Group conducted its third year of reviewing filings related to AG 51 and, the Long-Term Care Actuarial Working Group and its subgroups made progress on actuarial issues, addressing reserving standards and reporting requirements.
 
Another important area of focus for us is climate risks and mitigation. From our earliest days, NAIC members have responded to climate-driven natural catastrophes - both before and after disaster strikes. We play a crucial role in understanding the risks themselves and ensuring that companies are appropriately accounting for those risks.  State regulators are on the front lines of natural catastrophe preparedness and response, protecting policyholders and maintaining well-functioning insurance markets. The NAIC and state insurance regulators are addressing climate-related risks through the three main pillars of insurance regulation: financial risk analysis; insurance market availability and affordability; and consumer education and outreach.

Last month, the NAIC released a report on how the state-based insurance regulatory system is adaptable to emerging risks. The report summarizes past, present, and future programs and actions by the NAIC and state insurance regulators to help the insurance industry respond to increasing natural hazards including flooding, wildfires and extreme weather. Thanks to the coordination of California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, state regulators participated as panelists during the recent COP26 Sustainable Insurance Series hosted by the UN Environment Programme's Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative.

I was fortunate to join Commissioner Lara, Maryland Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Birrane, South Carolina Department of Insurance Director, Ray Farmer, Washington State Commissioner Mike Kreidler, and NAIC Secretary-Treasurer and Connecticut Commissioner Andrew Mais, as panelists at this event. Our discussion focused on how US insurance regulators are taking action. 

We continue to work with our counterparts both domestically and internationally on the critical work of addressing climate risks and the protection gap. One year ago, the NAIC finalized and adopted the Group Capital Calculation, an effort I am very proud of. The GCC provides an additional analytical tool for state insurance regulators that complements other analytical mechanisms in place, and helps quantify risk across the insurance group and gain a clear picture for the allocation of capital. 

Over the course of 2021, we continued implementing post-financial crisis reforms, in particular, those focused on enhancing group supervision and addressing potential systemic risk in the insurance sector at an international level.  At the same time, we took up a new generation of issues facing regulators across the globe, many of which mirror our domestic focus.  As regulators of the largest single market in the world, it is critical for NAIC members to provide their perspective on these issues and to ensure that any standard setting takes into account our viewpoints.  As a result, the NAIC, group-wide supervisors across a number of states and a variety of volunteer insurers actively contribute to this work by providing data and input. This is particularly important in assessing the comparability of the Aggregation Method to the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) Insurance Capital Standard.

This year marked a landmark anniversary for us. An incredible 150 years of NAIC members working collaboratively to protect consumers and ensure fair, competitive, and healthy markets. In 2022, we'll continue to respond to whatever issues come our way. A regulator's job is never done. 

As I prepare to pass the torch to Idaho Director Dean Cameron, and shift to the role of immediate past president, we will continue the tradition of finding ways to work together to advance solutions that help foster a robust and responsive insurance sector that provides consumers with safe and reliable insurance products. And as we continue the journey, let me leave with you something from our start - that first meeting 150 years ago, in fact some of the closing remarks of essentially the first NAIC president - here is how he characterized our state-based system, recognizing the momentous opportunity afforded by the creation of the NAIC: "This system of insurance is like a vast machine. 

Let the parts be constructed by independent artisans without any reference to the labors of each other, and you have no warrant that they will fit together and work in harmony, or produce any kind of useful result. But let the artificers come together and unite their skill; let the different parts be made for each other, and by connecting links be made to work together, and you will have a perfect machine. Let this method be applied to a common system of insurance supervision for the whole country, and we shall have a system like the mechanism of the clock, where every little wheel works in harmony with all the others, a system which shall move with regularity, the certainty, and the efficiency of the pendulum.  When we accomplish this result, then, and not till then, will we see the reward of the efforts which we have bestowed in this first meeting to bring about this result."  

I think its fair to say we have achieved, to a large degree, the vision set out by those first members.  And while there is more work to do, we certainly continue to abide by the notion that we are stronger when we are connected and that we are better when we act in harmony.  It has been a unique privilege and personal honor for me to have contributed in some small way to this grand design and legacy, as has every one of you sitting around the table.  We are part of something larger than ourselves and the work we do will extend well beyond our time here. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of it.

About the National Association of Insurance Commissioners

As part of our state-based system of insurance regulation in the United States, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides expertise, data, and analysis for insurance commissioners to effectively regulate the industry and protect consumers. The U.S. standard-setting organization is governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer reviews, and coordinate regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally.