OKLAHOMA CITY —
Democrat Kim Holland faces first-time candidate Republican John Doak in her run for a second full term as the state’s insurance commissioner.
Holland, who first was appointed to the office in 2005, said she is campaigning on a message of crafting responsible regulations and performing better insurance education outreach. Doak, who worked for several insurance firms, said he is entering politics to push conservative issues, such as removing red tape and downsizing government, to make the office more efficient.
· Doak spent his more than 20 years in the insurance industry in roles as an agent and an executive, including tenures with Marsh, Aon Risk Services, HNI Risk Services and Ascension Insurance. Doak said his diverse background allows him to see how insurance policies affect both customers and members of the industry.
“I’ve worked with people from talking over the dinner table to talking in the board room,” he said. “I’m a businessman and an insurance man, and I am not a career politician.”
· Holland was appointed insurance commissioner by Gov. Brad Henry in 2005 and was elected to a full term in 2006. Before her public service experience, she worked in the insurance industry and often specialized on health-care insurance.
“I worked in that field for 25 years,” she said. “What I bring to the table is that I have worked with consumers by sitting across from someone and helping them determine their exposure to risks – whether it be to themselves, their family or their business – and then finding the right product for them.”
· Doak said opposing the federal health-care reform legislation would be his No. 1 priority in office. He said he would work with Republican state and federal leaders to “repeal and replace” the bill.
“Oklahomans don’t want these federal mandates,” he said. “Insurance premiums are rising and it will be costly because it decreases competition.”
· Holland said she is concerned about the new health-care law because it takes regulation powers away from the state, which she said is more capable of doing the job than the federal government. She supports lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the health-care reform. In addition, she said she would work with the state’s federal representatives to potentially modify the law or give the state more flexibility to regulate health care insurance.
“I am very concerned about the cost,” she said. “I don’t believe it can be sustained in the long haul the way it currently is drafted.”
· Doak said he would call for a complete review of the state’s regulations. He said he advocates smaller government that would create a more business friendly environment so insurance groups can stay solvent.
“I want a smaller, more efficient government with regulations that allows businesses to come into the state and increase competition,” he said. “And more competition is good for Oklahoma.”
· Holland said serving as the principal regulator of the hundreds of insurance entities is one of the most important responsibilities of the office. She said many regulations are necessary to provide safeguards to make sure agencies remain solvent so residents can collect their claims. However, she said her office constantly reviews what regulation are and are not still needed.
“There are always room for improvements,” she said. “If there is a law that requires the use of paper, technology might now make that less expensive (by changing the regulation). We are constantly looking at legislation and laws that (hurt business), but we can’t compromise consumer protection.”
Uninsured motorists and anti-fraud efforts
· Doak said he would “decentralize” the insurance commissioner’s office to get agents into other parts of the state other than just Oklahoma City. This would help investigate and prevent fraud cases, he said. In addition, Doak said he would push to lower the number of uninsured motorists by seeking lower costs to purchase some form of the insurance.
“I think it is an education issue, and what we can do is drive down costs to make (automobile) insurance more affordable,” he said. “We need to take a hard look at it and see what other states are doing, such as Kansas with its no-fault (insurance policy).”
· Holland said she would like to see the state crackdown on uninsured motorists and people who commit insurance fraud in the state. She said she would work with legislators on both efforts, including asking for a dedicated insurance fraud prosecutor.
“We need to improve our success in prosecuting insurance fraud crimes,” she said. “With limited resources and limited priorities, law enforcement is focused on crimes like murders and drug deals. So white-collar crimes tend to take a back seat.”
Trevor Brown covers the statehouse for CNHI. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Name: Kim Holland
Current residence: Tulsa
Occupation: Worked in the insurance industry for more than 25 years
Elected office: Insurance commissioner (2005-present)
Name: John Doak
Current residence: Tulsa
Occupation: Previously served as an executive at Marsh, Aon Risk Services, HNI Risk Services, and Ascension Insurance, where he was senior vice president of acquisitions
Elected office: None
Insurance commissioner duties:
- Serves four-year term
- Enforces the insurance-related laws of the state
- Protects consumers by providing accurate and timely insurance information
- Promotes a competitive marketplace and ensures solvency of the insurance entities the state regulates
- Licenses and educates residents insurance producers and adjusters, funeral home directors, bail bondsmen and real estate appraisers