July 28, 2014

State insurance commission staff studies hard

Sandy Praeger
Guest Columnist
Performing the day-to-day work of the Kansas Insurance Department requires diligence, intelligence and persistence. I’m proud of our staff members and the work they do for Kansans. They fulfill a critical mission to regulate, educate and advocate for our citizens who have insurance products.
What makes me even prouder is the continuing education and leadership roles that my colleagues pursue in the quest to help their fellow citizens. Many of them have completed courses on their own to enhance their knowledge of their particular insurance area. Believe me, if you think insurance is hard to comprehend, so is the training you take to do your job better.
Many of our staff members can proudly point to the letters of professional designations following their name on business cards and correspondence. They represent a continued desire to know as much as possible about their areas of expertise.
Often, that continuing education transfers into a leadership role as well, not only in the department but through national roles in insurance regulation. We have several KID staff members who chair committees, subcommittees or working groups for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the nationwide organization for insurance officials that has been in existence since 1871.
KID staff members participate in at least 34 NAIC committee activities, ranging from antifraud, information technology, producer licensing, senior issues, title insurance, health and managed care, financial conditions, consumer and state government liaisons and actuarial issues. Our leaders of those groups are sought after for their regulatory knowledge, because our department is known nationwide for commonsense, practical and meaningful ways to provide useful solutions to consumer and insurance industry issues.
Those committee activities don’t always involve personal meetings; many of the activities are now conducted through conference calls and webinars among the state regulators, saving travel, expense and time.
The designations and leadership roles complement our consumer-oriented mission. We also have a public presence through our award-winning website, www.ksinsurance.org, the numerous publications we produce throughout the year and the many speaking engagements we provide to Kansas groups and organizations.
Our website, www.ksinsurance.org, has been nationally cited twice as one of the top six insurance department websites in the country during the past five years.  In addition to providing an electronic presence, we send out nearly 30,000 hard copies of our publications each year, and many more are printed by consumers because we make them available for download on our website.
Also, our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/kansasinsurancedepartment, provides many of the same consumer news updates and features in real time.
In 2011 we sent department representatives to more than one-third of our Kansas counties for speaking engagements ranging from general consumer issues to property/casualty and health topics. We gave 128 speeches/presentations and staffed 19 department exhibits.
The work we do is not often high profile or glamorous. It’s the type of work-a-day, thoughtful, practical and consumer-friendly involvement that I believe you expect from a state governmental agency.  The continuing education our staff members take, the leadership we provide to state and national organizations, and our consumer outreach programs are all an outgrowth of our commitment to do what’s best for Kansans.
Sandy Praeger is the Kansas Insurance Commissioner.

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