Georgia Government 101: What does the Commissioner of Insurance do?

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The recent dispute between Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Piedmont Healthcare makes any discussion about Georgia’s insurance commissioner — and the upcoming election for that post — timely and relevant. This is the office that handles your insurance and determines if your premiums are too high. If you’re not happy with your health insurance, you may want to pay close attention to who is running for this office.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the Commissioner of Insurance: Georgia’s insurance commissioner oversees the state Insurance and Fire Safety department. The office is responsible for regulating all forms of insurance including health insurance, life insurance and car insurance.

If you think your health premiums are excessive or you can’t get action from your insurance company on a claim, you can contact the insurance commissioner. If an auto insurance company is dragging their feet and you can’t resolve the problem, this is the state office that can help you with that.

The insurance commissioner is also responsible for the following:

  • Licensing insurance companies and agents
  • Regulates workers compensation funds
  • Investigates actuarial tables, rates and market conduct of insurance companies
  • Revoke or suspend a company’s certificate of authority or levy fines against the company
  • Determines when a premium or rate increase is excessive
  • Reviews policy forms to make sure the wording is not ambiguous and that coverage is not too restrictive
  • Approves and regulates all health and life insurance policy forms in the state
  • Answers consumer questions about insurance policies
  • Notifies facilities when they are in violation of fire safety laws
  • Investigates insurance fraud whether it is from consumers, insurance companies or insurance agencies
  • Investigates the fire safety of buildings and new constructions
  • Licenses traveling carnivals, circuses and race tracks
  • Helps local officials determine the cause and origin of suspicious fires
  • Oversees the state Fire Marshall’s office

How is the Commissioner of Insurance Chosen?: The insurance commissioner is elected by the voters.

Term length: 4 years.

Qualifications: You don’t have to be an insurance agent or even have an insurance policy to be Georgia’s insurance commissioner. However, you do need to be 25 years old, a citizen of the United States for at least 10 years and a resident of Georgia for at least four years.

Who is the Current Insurance Commissioner?: Republican Ralph Hudgens has been the insurance commissioner since 2011. He is not running for re-election. The previous insurance commissioner was John Oxendine, who held the post for 16 years.

How influential is the Commissioner of Insurance?: Because the commissioner of insurance regulates your insurance policies and investigates insurance companies, the office-holder will always have some type of influence on Georgia’s families.

However, the commissioner can choose to be highly influential or not influential in regards to the insurance industry depending on what he or she chooses to investigate and enforce and in what policies they set.