Executive Branch » Insurance Commissioner
The insurance commissioner is the only one of the six elected statewide officers in the executive branch whose office was established by statute rather than by the Kansas Constitution. The Kansas Insurance Department was created by the Kansas Legislature in 1871 and the officer was known as the superintendent of insurance until 1927, when the office was reorganized and the title was changed to commissioner of insurance.
The insurance commissioner is elected statewide and serves a four-year term, beginning on the second Monday of January following his or her election. There are no term limits for the office. However, unlike the other elected officers, there are statutory qualifications to be eligible to run for office. State law requires the insurance commissioner be a person well versed and experienced in the insurance business, and not be employed by or have any official connections to or financial interests in any insurance company.
Duties of the Insurance Commissioner
The insurance commissioner is responsible for regulating all insurance sold in Kansas and overseeing insurance companies and agents licensed to do business in the state. The commissioner also serves as a member of or makes appointments to a number of state boards and commissions.
The major functions of the insurance department are to regulate and review companies for financial solvency and regulatory compliance, to educate and assist consumers, and to license agents selling insurance products in the state.
The insurance department is organized into various divisions, each headed by a director appointed by the insurance commissioner. The insurance commissioner also appoints and oversees an assistant insurance commissioner, who manages the regulatory responsibilities of the department and serves as its administrative hearing officer, and appoints an assistant to the commissioner, who oversees administrative, scheduling and logistical details for the commissioner. The following divisions assist in carrying out the insurance department’s duties:
Accident and Health Division - supervises and regulates matters relating to accident and health insurance, and assists the commissioner in the formation, review and implementation of pertinent health insurance legislation.
Administration Division - comprised of the offices of the commissioner, assistant commissioner, actuarial services and reception desk staff; directs all regulatory and administrative policies and practices of the department. The actuarial services office provides statistical and actuarial regulatory assistance to the commissioner and the other divisions.
Anti-Fraud Division - educates consumers about protecting themselves from illegal activity and investigates insurance-related misconduct, except for Medicaid, Medicare and workers’ compensation claimant fraud. Anti-fraud investigators review, refer and investigate cases, and staff attorneys review the findings and facilitate the prosecution or other disposition.
Comptroller/Building Services Division - handles accounts payable and receives and deposits to appropriate accounts more than $130 million each year, most of which goes into the state’s general fund. The comptroller processes employee-related vouchers and payments, handles billing for company examinations and oversees annual assessments required by law. Building services handles department supplies, mail, and building maintenance and repairs.
Consumer Assistance Division - informs and assists insurance consumers, oversees the independent medical review program and monitors insurance company compliance with laws and regulations designed for the protection of policyholders.
Financial Surveillance Division - monitors the financial condition of all Kansas-based insurance companies operating in the state; conducts examinations of insurance companies domiciled in Kansas; approves the admission of all insurance organizations, automobile clubs and premium finance companies; and oversees securities deposited by insurance companies.
Government and Public Affairs Division - represents the interests of the department before the general public, other government agencies, and state and federal legislative committees; coordinates legislative and regulatory initiatives of the department and presents those issues to the Kansas Legislature and U.S. Congress; serves as a liaison between the department and state and federal agencies on insurance-related matters; handles inquiries from the news media; communicates department policy to the insurance industry, agents and the public; and produces consumer publications and brochures.
Human Resources Division - provides human resources programs, systems, services and consultation on such topics as organizational planning, recruitment, employment, training, employee relations, benefits, compensation, and employee wellness and safety.
Information Technology Division - responsible for the planning, design, acquisition, installation, operation and maintenance of all electronic information systems owned or used by the agency; assists staff in use of information systems and data; and develops and maintains the department’s public website and its insurance industry extranet.
Legal Division - provides advice and counsel to the commissioner and the operating divisions of the department; handles department litigation, including the enforcement of penalties for violations of all insurance laws and regulations; interprets insurance policy contractual provisions; researches insurance laws and regulations; and assists all other divisions in the resolution of consumer complaints against insurers, agents and other related entities.
Life Insurance Division - supervises and regulates matters related to the writing of life insurance; reviews policy forms being offered to consumers; oversees advertising of life insurance products; oversees and analyzes proposed laws, tax review and calculation; advises the commissioner; and processes official company papers and certificates.
Producers Division - qualifies and supervises insurance agents and agencies; regulates the issuance and renewal of licenses through application procedures, examination and background investigation of applicants, and continuing education; and monitors the activity of licensees to ensure compliance with insurance laws.
Property and Casualty Division - supervises and regulates matters relating to the writing of property and casualty insurance; reviews rates, rules and forms submitted by property and casualty insurance companies doing business in Kansas to ensure they are in compliance with statutes and regulations; audits insurance company annual statement tax and fee forms; reviews proposed legislation; replies to consumer inquiries and complaints; administers several plans, pools or acts; and issues licenses to new insurance companies.