Industry Reacts to McCarty Resignation, Contemplates His Next Move

By Amy O' Connor | January 8, 2016

Insurance industry reactions to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty’s decision to resign have been rolling in since the long-time state regulator announced Jan. 5 that he would step down from his position after 12 years in office.

“The privilege of serving the people of Florida as Insurance Commissioner has been the highlight of my professional career,” McCarty said in a statement released by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR).

Jeff Grady, president of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA), said at first glance the news of McCarty’s resignation came as a surprise. However, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s bid to replace him early last year may have been a catalyst for McCarty to begin exploring other options.

“He did a good job with what is a very difficult job. The Florida Insurance Commissioner is probably one of hardest posts you can have, given the catastrophic perils [Florida] has,” Grady said. “He has navigated that successfully and you’ve got to give him credit for that. But he saw that it was time for him to move on.”

The Florida Association for Insurance Reform (FAIR) presented McCarty with a lifetime achievement award last fall. Jay Neal, president and CEO of FAIR, said he wasn’t surprised by McCarty’s move, particularly after Scott’s public, albeit brief, quest to fire him.

“If you don’t feel welcome where you are, you will respond to other opportunities that knock on the door,” Neal said.

So what’s next for McCarty?

McCarty has not said what direction he will go after leaving office, just that he has plans to pursue other opportunities.

“I am looking forward to exploring new opportunities that will allow me to use the skills, knowledge and expertise I’ve gained as Insurance Commissioner. In the meantime, I will continue my service and provide whatever assistance is desired to facilitate a smooth transition,” he said on Jan. 6.

However, a report from Florida Politics via SNL Financial quoted unidentified sources saying McCarty may be vying for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) chief executive officer position that opened up when former U.S. Senator Ben Nelson announced in October that he would not renew his contract with the group. McCarty has worked closely with the organization through the years, including as a former president, vice president and secretary/treasurer.

OIR did not confirm or deny the report, when contacted by Insurance Journal.

Whatever he ends up doing, those who have worked with him in Florida expect he isn’t done leaving his mark on the insurance industry.

“He has served this state selflessly and his international regulatory experience will provide him endless opportunities in the private market. The world is his oyster and no matter where he lands, the organization he joins will be better for it,” said Lisa Miller, former Florida Deputy Insurance Commissioner who served with McCarty in the early 2000’s and during the 2004-2005 storm season.

“He still has quite a few working years ahead of him and things to do,” said Neal. “But what he has managed to accomplish here in Florida could be considered accomplishments of a lifetime.”

Industry Reaction

McCarty’s colleagues through the years responded to his resignation announcement with praise and appreciation for his work in the industry.

“Commissioner McCarty has been a devoted public servant for nearly 30 years. His contributions to state-based insurance regulation have been invaluable — especially during this last decade. We’ve counted on his leadership on numerous domestic and international issues. We will miss having him as an NAIC member and we wish him all the best as he pursues new opportunities,” NAIC President John M. Huff said in a statement to Insurance Journal.

The Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) called McCarty a “leader in property insurance regulation in Florida.”

“His dedication to shifting the risk associated with hurricanes away from residents and businesses and onto private markets should be noted. Commissioner McCarty has worked hard to reduce the likelihood of future hurricane taxes in Florida, a legacy that keeps billions of dollars in the wallets and purses of for Floridians and businesses statewide,” ABIR said in a statement.

Logan McFaddin, PCI regional manager based in its Florida office, said:

“PCI has worked closely with Commissioner Kevin McCarty since 2003. We applaud his recent efforts to restore a competitive and healthy insurance marketplace for homeowners, motorists, and business owners. PCI will continue to work with Commissioner McCarty over the next several months to combat fraud in Florida and protect hard working citizens from those trying to take advantage of the system. It’s important for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to continue to be a strong and effective advocate for state-based regulation.”

The Florida Surplus Lines Service Office’s Executive Director Gary Pullen commented as well:

“Commissioner McCarty has executed a strong career of public service in Florida. We will always be grateful for his support of the surplus lines market; and our office and efforts in particular. It is a very complex and tumultuous industry and he has shown great leadership and vision. We wish him much success going forward.”

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About Amy O' Connor

O'Connor is associate editor of MyNewMarkets.com. More from Amy O' Connor
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