For the past three years The Heartland Institute has annually released a report asking two simple, fundamental questions about America’s system of state insurance regulation:
1. How free are consumers to choose the property and casualty insurance products they want?
2. How free are insurers to provide the property and casualty insurance products that consumers say they want?
For the third year in a row, we found a simple answer: Not very free. America’s state-level insurance bureaucracies make it difficult–sometimes impossible–for insurers to offer consumers the products they need, want, and deserve. That said, we noted this year a modest but real improvement in consumer and insurer freedom. The progress, however, has not been uniform, and things have moved in the wrong direction in some places.
Nonetheless, 2009 brought several positive reforms along with the negative ones:
- Massachusetts, under the leadership of Governor Deval Patrick and Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burns, ushered in a new era of market-set insurance rates and ended its system of state-made rates.
- North Carolina’s state legislature, with the leadership of newly elected Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, enacted major reforms to the state’s troubled wind-damage insurance pool. Although the program requires additional reforms, its fiscal risks to the state and its insurance industry have been significantly lessened.
- A bipartisan coalition of state legislators in Florida passed substantial, market-freeing legislation. Governor Charlie Crist vetoed one of the proposals but signed the other into law.