This year, the news media has been focused on the Presidential election, and understandably so. Here in North Carolina, we’ve also been bombarded with ads about candidates for Congress, Senate, and State legislature. But ask most people who’s running for State Insurance Commissioner, and you’ll get a blank stare. It’s ironic because very few elected officials have more impact over our everyday lives than does the Insurance Commissioner. During a recent taping of Triad Today, I spoke with Mike Causey, the current Commissioner, and Wayne Goodwin, who preceded Mike in that job and now wants it back.
JL: Most folks aren’t aware of all the things that the State Insurance Commissioner regulates, and the responsibilities he has.
MC: When I was campaigning in 2016, I’d go around the State and introduce myself. I’d say, “Hi I’m Mike Causey and I’m running for State Insurance Commissioner.” And people would say, “Well, what kind of insurance do you sell?” And I’d tell them, “We don’t sell insurance, we regulate it.” Folks just don’t know what all falls under the Department of Insurance. The Commissioner is also the State Fire Marshal, overseeing all fire departments and fire training. We’re over engineering codes and building code inspections. We regulate manufacturers of modular homes and mobile homes, which is a huge industry in our State.
WG: The Insurance Commissioner’s office has fairly broad regulatory authority. Not just about regulating insurance agents, but insurance companies and insurance rates. You also regulate bail bondsmen and collections agents. You provide education about Medicare for every senior citizen in the State.
MC: We also have sworn law enforcement officers to investigate fraud and arson. In fact, North Carolina was the first State in the nation to put sworn officers in the Department of Insurance.
WG: It’s a huge office with great responsibility.
Both men know something about responsibility. Before holding the Commissioner’s job, Causey was an Army veteran who came up through the ranks in the insurance industry, while Goodwin is an attorney who took on big corporations.
MC: No offense to my attorney friends, but I think it’s a good idea to have an insurance commissioner who actually has experience in the insurance business. I’ve gone through the ranks as an agent, agency manager, superintendent of agencies, and I’ve been in all aspects of insurance. That not only helps me understand the agent’s point if view, it helps me understand the consumer’s point of view and what they have to go through. That’s why last year alone, we were able to help over 258,000 people in this State.
WG: During my two terms as Insurance Commissioner I saved us $2.4 billion, had refunds of $206 million, and we had the lowest car insurance premiums in the country right here in North Carolina because of the decisions I made.
JL: With all of the responsibility and stress that comes with the job of Insurance Commissioner, why do you want the job again?
WG: Because for as long as I can remember, even as a kid, my passion in life was I wanted to solve problems and help people.
MC: We had an agriculture commissioner years ago named Jim Graham, and he would tell everybody, “I love my job.” Well, that’s the same for me. I love my job and I love helping people.
To learn more about the NC Department of Insurance, visit www.ncdoi.gov.