Glen Mulready has 35 years of experience in the insurance industry and is a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He previously served as the House insurance committee chair and is now the floor leader emeritus.
Insurance Journal: What are the primary functions of the Oklahoma Insurance Department?
Glen Mulready: I think the absolutely number one priority of the department is consumer protection. … I think in other areas, sort of from a priority standpoint, I would list out insuring the financial solvency of the insurance companies. Basically making sure that they are financially healthy and able to abide by the … contracts that they have committed to.
I think that consumer education is a big part. Unfortunately … not just our state but the general public is not well versed on insurance issues. Insurance can be complicated, and so I think the department has a role in trying to educate consumers so they can be smart insurance consumers and make wise decisions when it comes to spending their precious dollars on insurance premiums.
And third, I think combating insurance fraud is a big part. I have jokingly referred to it as the high blood pressure of the insurance industry. It’s the silent killer … so I think [being] vigilant and upfront and proactive on preventing insurance fraud is another priority of the Oklahoma Insurance Department.
IJ: What aspects of your professional background do you feel qualify you for service as Oklahoma’s insurance commissioner?
GM: I have been in the insurance business for 35 years now … at all different aspects of the industry and at some of the highest levels. … I have experience in the property and casualty side of the business as an independent insurance agent, on healthcare, health insurance, life insurance. I’ve worked as an independent agent, as a broker, and I’ve been an executive at two of Oklahoma’s largest health insurance companies.
But addition to that, last decade here in Oklahoma, I’ve worked as a small business owner. … My insurance business is a small business and we provide Oklahoma employers with their employees with benefits and health insurance, and make sure they’re maximizing their employee benefit dollars. But in addition to that, for the last eight years, I’ve served as a state legislator and a former chairman of insurance committee in the House of Representatives, so I’ve seen some other variations of things that I may not have dealt with professionally, specifically, but through that role I’ve also had a chance to interact with that.
I received my CIC designation a number of years ago, back in the late 80s. I’ve served as the president of both Tulsa and the Oklahoma state Health Underwriters Association and have previously been named as the state health underwriter of the year. So, all of that to say, I’ve got a wide variety of experience really from all aspects of the insurance industry. I believe that that extensive and diverse experience, and as my role dealing with insurance policy, uniquely qualifies me to be the next state insurance commissioner.
IJ: Why do you want to serve as Oklahoma’s insurance commissioner?
GM: That’s a great question, the why. … I think the key thing is that Oklahomans have a lot to worry about. They’re busy taking care of their families. They’re putting food on the table. They’re paying their bills and paying for their prescriptions and things like that. And so, I want to hopefully give them more insurance choices, give them greater access that will help decrease what they have to worry about. I want to be confident that, when the time comes, when they need it … whether it’s an insurance claim or when they need that insurance … they can be confident that the companies are solvent, they’re gonna’ do what they say they’re gonna’ do, and their claims will be properly evaluated and acted upon.
IJ: How would you describe the current state of the insurance market in Oklahoma?
GM: I think, overall, it’s good. We have certain positive and negative aspects … but number one, from a negative standpoint, I would say is just a lack of choices for health insurance. … The Affordable Care Act had some damaging effects to our state, in our marketplace. We went from having six choices to four, to two, and last couple years, we only had one health insurance option for individuals in the marketplace. The good news is that we are, for 2019, we’re adding a second option. We have Medica coming into our individual market.
On the positive side, our worker’s comp … has seen substantial decreases in rates, mainly due to legislative changes and reforms that have been done over the last few years, so that’s a positive thing. …
We’ve got well over 100 companies in Oklahoma that are writing auto insurance premiums. We have 800 that are licensed to write auto insurance in our state. … I believe that more choices and more competition drives down costs, increases efficiency, increases innovation, and that sort of thing. I think we need more of that.
We can, at times, be a tough state to do some business in, just as you know, we have our share of catastrophic claims with hail and tornado, but overall, I think the current state of the Oklahoma insurance market is good with some pockets of real positives and some pockets of negatives.
IJ: What message would you like to convey to the insurance agents and brokers in Oklahoma?
GM: To agents and brokers, my message to them, I guess first of all I would say that I’m one of you. … I have served as an agent or broker … over 20 years … working for families, for Oklahoma families and businesses. … This can be a tough state in which to work. But Oklahomans, the Oklahoma consumer needs you guys and girls more and more to advise them and help protect them. And so, that is the role of the agent broker. I think the agent broker is a critical role. They are pillars in their community, the agents and brokers, throughout Oklahoma.
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