In February 2019, Governor Ned Lamont named Andrew Mais Insurance Commissioner for the state of Connecticut. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Mais about his role and how the department is helping spread the message that Hartford remains “The Insurance Capital of The World.”
NAN PRICE: What makes Hartford “The Insurance Capital of The World” and how do we sustain that status?
ANDREW MAIS: One item of particular importance to the future of insurance as a whole is talent. The talent industry needs isn’t widely available, but it is in Hartford. We have the most actuaries per capita of anywhere in the world. And actuaries are vital to the future of insurance. That’s just one indicator of how Hartford can survive and thrive as The Insurance Capital of The World.
What we need to do—and what we are trying to do—is to leverage all the resources we have here. We have the talent. We have the skill. We have the experience. And we have a nexus. We have established businesses that have been here and like it here. They continue to thrive here, and we expect they’ll continue to thrive and we’ll do whatever we can to help them.
If you’ve got an InsurTech startup idea, you need to be able to share that with insurance companies. Well, they’re all here. You come here, it’s fertile ground. This is not just a national thing, it’s an international reputation that Hartford has that attracts the best and the brightest.
NAN: How do we tell Hartford’s story outside of Connecticut and build on that international reputation?
ANDREW: It requires a combination of all of us getting out there and sharing the information through the various methods we have.
As Commissioner, for instance, in the past couple of months I’ve spoken at several different gatherings across the country to share the message that Connecticut is a place that welcomes insurers, welcomes and supports innovation—and we want you here.
Connecticut’s Insurance Department spreads the message in partnership with other stakeholders, including the insurance companies’ CEOs. They want to see Connecticut remain central to the industry and they’re out there evangelizing.
We’re also working with MetroHartford Alliance to attract more captives to Connecticut. The Alliance is helping provide that marketing push to bring more companies into Hartford. We are the regulators. We provide the expertise and we can answer the questions.
We have to spread the message. And we have to actively spread it. Sitting back is not an option. This industry brings good jobs at good wages, and many states—many countries—want those jobs. So, we will have to be out there promoting our state and, as Commissioner, I’m committed to doing that.
NAN: Let’s talk about your role as Commissioner. How do you support economic impact in the region?
ANDREW: There are several ways to support the sector. As regulators, our primary concern is consumer protection. But there’s also the idea of competition. Increased competition will lower prices, which provides better products, more products, and more inclusivity. That’s part of why we encourage and support the growth of industry.
We want to make sure people who are not necessarily familiar with all that insurance can do for them find out. We want to make sure that underserved populations are reached, too.
If I speak your language and I understand your culture, it’s a lot easier to get that message across. That’s part of what we’re doing. We’re encouraging that inclusivity. We’re making sure consumers get to hear the message about insurance.
For example, Connecticut has a large Spanish-speaking population. So, we created a bilingual insurance licensing exam to better serve that population. That brings new people to the industry and enables them to make a good living for themselves—it also enables them to spread the word.
NAN: According to Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, being insurance commissioner “is one of the most powerful positions in state government that people don't talk a lot about it.” Why is that?
ANDREW: When most people think of insurance, they think about health or auto and home insurance from a personal perspective. They don’t think about the amount of companies and dollars involved. There’s this huge economic engine the insurance industry provides.
Insurance is a state responsibility, which is great because we’re close to the consumers. We can listen to them and provide what they need. We have the flexibility to get consumers the products they need.
But it is a vast responsibility, and there aren’t too many other places in the state government where you will find that responsibility resting almost exclusively with the state. So, it is a powerful position. Insurance is an engine of economic development. It’s an engine for consumer protection. The fact that here, at the state level, we have democracy that regulates it and allows innovation makes it vital, especially to a state like ours.
NAN: What else to people need to know about the State of Connecticut Insurance Department?
ANDREW: This department has a great reputation as being open to all stakeholders. We listen to consumers. We listen to industry. We listen to everyone because we want to encourage the growth of industry and encourage competition.
Hartford is a wonderful city. We want to do everything we can to help the state and this city prosper—and insurance is vital to that. We’re going to bend over backward to ensure we have the resources here to help you.
We are regulators, and our priority is and always will be consumer protection. But that doesn’t mean we see industry as the enemy. We see industry as integral to consumer protection. We don’t see a conflict between consumer protection and industry growth. As a matter of fact, we see them as complementary goals—the more confident consumers are that they are protected, the better they feel about buying insurance. We want to ensure that Hartford grows, the state grows, and industry grows. We are always here to help and to listen. If you have a question or a complaint, we encourage you to go online or use our Consumer Hotline to get in touch 800-203-3447 or 860-297-3900.