Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, has appointed a former life insurance company lawyer the state’s new director of the Illinois Department of Insurance.
J. Anthony Clark, 50, worked for 10 years as counsel for Montgomery Ward Life Insurance before opening a private practice in Chicago. A statement released by the governor claimed Clark is a “recognized authority on state insurance law regulations.”
“At this point, no one knows a great deal about this selection,” said a spokesperson for the Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois (PIIAI), which is attempting to arrange a meeting with the new director.
“He brings to the job an insurance background,” William R. Schroeder, a policy analyst for Alliance of American Insurers, told Insurance Journal. “Though our focus is on property and casualty rather than life insurance, we consider that a plus.”
Unlike his Michigan colleague Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Blagojevich did not make insurance an issue in his successful bid for the governor’s mansion last fall. That should come as no surprise, Schroeder said.
“Quite frankly, this is an excellent place for consumers and the industry to do business because of the competition,” Schroeder said. “All you have to do is compare it to New Jersey, where competition is almost smothered. The rates are unbelievable, yet it’s a comparable state.”
Clark, a former reporter, sits on the board of directors of the Cook County Bar Association. The Illinois Insurance Department employs 400 people and Clark will be paid $113,200. Clark will begin work at the end of March, according to an Insurance Department spokesperson.
“He’s coming into probably the most competitive insurance market in the country,” Schroeder said. “I’m sure he’ll recognize the value of that.”
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