Taking Our Message to Michigan
February 11, 2014Last week, an American Fraternal Alliance delegation met with newly appointed Michigan Insurance Commissioner Ann Flood and Deputy Director Judy Weaver in Lansing, Michigan. The Alliance delegation was composed of Kevin Marti, President and CEO of Gleaner Life (domiciled in Adrian, MI); Dan Nickodemus, Managing Partner of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (and located in the society’s Plymouth, MI, office); and Thomas Wegener, Supreme Director of the Knights of Columbus (and a resident of Lansing), and yours truly. Chris Martin, National President of Woman’s Life, headquartered in Port Huron, MI, was with us in spirit, but a snow storm closed the highway between Port Huron and Lansing, preventing him from participating in the meeting. [caption id="attachment_2002" align="aligncenter" width="320"] (L to R) Dan Nickodemus, Managing Partner of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans; Supreme Director Thomas Wegener, Knights of Columbus; Gleaner Life Insurance President and CEO Kevin Marti; Commissioner Ann Flood and Deputy Director Judy Weaver[/caption] We wanted to introduce ourselves and the fraternal system to Commissioner Flood and the Michigan Department of Financial Services – explaining the unique marriage of financial services and community outreach that fraternals bring to the table, and providing specific information about the impact of our organizations in the state. We also wanted to learn more about the most important issues on regulators minds and offer our help in finding answers to complex regulatory problems – within the state and across the country. I can assure every Alliance member that Kevin, Dan and Tom did an outstanding job of communicating “who we are and what we do” to Commissioner Flood and Director Weaver. These regulators were clearly aware of the important role we play in securing healthy financial futures for thousands of Michiganders, but were pleasantly surprised to learn of the positive impact that Alliance member societies’ fraternal activities have on individuals and communities in every corner of the state. When it comes to life insurance regulation, insurer solvency and sustainability top the list (not surprisingly). Commissioner Flood said that she felt the principles of NAIC’s “Own Risk and Solvency Assessment” (ORSA) “make sense for smaller insurers.” Currently, insurers with less than $500 million in annual direct premium written are exempt from these provisions. She also indicated that the Michigan Department supports the use of Principles-Based Reserving, and is hopeful that NAIC will move forward with enacting it. She was pleased to report that fraternal solvency was not a significant concern in Michigan, due to the strong financial condition of both of the state’s domiciled societies, but she was clearly aware that it was an issue in other states and that some regulators are considering more stringent solvency regulation to protect consumers. Reaching out to policymakers and telling both sides of the fraternal story is one of the most important aspects of the Alliance’s advocacy efforts. And thanks to the participation of fraternal executives like Kevin, Tom and Dan we’ve established a positive connection with Michigan’s new Insurance Commissioner that will allow us to address future regulatory issues affecting fraternals from an informed platform.