Delaware is set to elect its next insurance commissioner tomorrow.
Dr. Julia Pillsbury is the candidate for the Republican party, while current Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro is running for re-election with the Democratic party.
Navarro was elected to his first term in 2016 as the state of Delaware’s 26th insurance commissioner. He brought previous experience in public service to the role after serving for more than 20 years with the New Castle County Police and as New Castle County Sheriff in 2010.
He told Insurance Journal that he is hoping for re-election in order to continue what he loves most about his job: focusing on others.
“The best part of the job is helping people when they have issues with their insurance companies,” he said. “And, you know, this is all I’ve done. My entire adult life has been spent helping people.”
He cites some of his biggest accomplishments during his first term as insurance commissioner as his work with the General Assembly to pass House Substitute 1 to House Bill 80, a consumer fairness bill that targets unfair discriminatory practices by automobile and homeowners insurance companies to determine premium costs. The legislation ensures that race, age, gender, economic status or other personal characteristics cannot impact the cost of auto and homeowners policies.
Navarro also pointed to Delaware’s four consecutive years of decreases in workers’ comp rates as another accomplishment that stands out during his first term. The most recent decrease was announced last week and is set to go into effect December 1, 2020.
“With the workers’ comp decreases, this makes it more attractive for businesses to come to Delaware,” Navarro said.
On the other hand, he said one of the biggest challenges for Delaware’s insurance industry at the moment remains the COVID-19 pandemic. Delaware has seen more than 25,000 total positive cases so far with 710 total deaths since the pandemic began. On March 12, Delaware Governor John Carney initially issued a state of emergency declaration to mobilize state resources and prepare for the spread of coronavirus across the state.
“We worked with our local legislators to prevent the [insurance] industry from canceling policies due to non-payment during the pendency of the emergency order,” Navarro said. “Now, we’re working with consumers and in the industry to work on payment plans so that they don’t have to pay all of it back at once.”
If re-elected, Navarro plans to focus on boosting telehealth, which he said has served as a benefit to Delaware consumers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In July, Governor Carney signed, via livestream, HS 1 for HB 348. This bill temporarily codifies a number of consumer-friendly provisions developed during COVID-19 that can increase access to health care due to expanding telemedicine.
“Speaking of the future, I think that I’d like to codify it so the law will remain, and it won’t just cancel or time out in July ,” Navarro said.
Appointed in January as chair of the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s Antifraud Task Force, Navarro added he will focus on big data and artificial intelligence if re-elected, placing a particular focus on preventing discriminatory practices through the use of algorithms.
Navarro stated that as the only regulator in the race, he believes he is well suited for re-election.
“I love helping people, and that’s what I’m wired to do,” he said. “I just think I’m the right person for the job.”
Navarro’s opponent Pillsbury is a unique running mate in that she is not a politician, but a veteran, previously serving as a captain in the U.S. Army and a major in the U.S. Air Force. She has also worked as a pediatrician and is a former small business owner of a medical practice. In this role, she handled insurance coverage for her staff and advocated for them with insurance companies, according to her campaign website. Pillsbury didn’t respond to Insurance Journal’s requests for comment by press time.
“I feel my many years as a provider, adviser and consumer advocate make me well suited to become the Insurance Commissioner,” she said in a statement on the Delaware Republican Party’s website. “While I realize I will have much to learn about the position, I feel I have much experience as a business owner. Furthermore, I feel I have much to offer as health care changes. I look forward to serving as Insurance Commissioner.”
Pillsbury is a chair of the Delaware Medicaid Medical Care Advisory Committee and has previously served on two panels for the American Academy of Pediatrics, advocating for fair reimbursement for providers and families. The American Medical Association also selected Pillsbury to serve on an exclusive panel that establishes billing codes for the medical industry, her campaign website states.
Delaware’s general election will be held tomorrow on November 3. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
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