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The New York State Insurance Department has begun implementing recommendations from a modernization effort that will cut unnecessary red tape and simplify approval processes, Superintendent James J. Wrynn announced today. The result will allow the Department to focus its resources where they are most needed to best protect consumers, while addressing the needs of the insurance market more efficiently.

A joint Department-industry working group developed a list of recommendations as a part of the Insurance Filings Modernization Initiative that Wrynn launched earlier this year. The recommendations are included in a report from the Initiative released today.

"Cutting red tape and simplifying routine filings will help bring products to market faster and reduce costs. It will also allow the Department to better protect consumers by focusing its limited resources on more complex products which warrant a more thorough review and on serious violations,” Wrynn said. “Government agencies must operate as efficiently and transparently as possible and foster a competitive environment that will encourage greater innovation. These reforms will help us achieve those goals.”

“We have not waited to implement the good ideas produced by this Modernization Initiative. As they were developed, we began to implement some of them. We will be implementing more and reporting on our progress,” Wrynn noted.

Some of the recommendations involve having clear guidelines and checklists where they are currently lacking so insurers know beforehand exactly what is required for a filing. Now, there may be several rounds of information requests before a filing is considered complete and action is taken by the Department, which can result in long delays before approval. Also, the Department will offer training and target assistance to insurers with problems providing needed information.

Based on recommendations contained in the report, the Insurance Department has already begun implementing the following improvements:

Expediting review and approval processes – The introduction of standardized model language insurers can use for new health policies, which has already yielded benefits for changes needed under Federal health reform, as well as new internal procedures for routine property, homeowners and auto insurance rate and form filings is enabling the Department to fast-track its review process. This will allow faster and more efficient approvals, which in turn, will enable insurers to get new products to market faster.

Ensuring greater accuracy – The use by insurers of a newly developed checklist for submitting Memorandums of Variable Material for approval in the Life Bureau is helping to improve the accuracy and quality of submissions.

Greater access to licensing data – The Department has redirected staffing resources to assist agents and brokers obtain information on their licenses over the phone. Plans are being made to further enhance this service.

Improving the filing process – Suggestions health insurers can use to improve form filings before they submit them for review have been posted on the Department’s website at: This should help move filings more efficiently through the Department’s review process.

Wrynn said additional recommendations by the group are being worked on and will be implemented as they are completed. These will include:

  • Streamlining the Department's internal review process to expedite approval of property/casualty insurance rate and form filings.
  • Launching a producer search feature on the Department’s website that will allow insurance agents, brokers and consumers to easily locate licensing information online.
  • Working on updating the product outlines available on the Department website for life and annuity products so insurers can be made aware of applicable standards on a real time basis.
  • Refining the Department’s website to make it easier for consumers and insurers to find information.
  • Working with industry and the Legislature on commercial modernization.

Wrynn said the public and the industry will be updated on the Department’s progress again in six months.

The Insurance Filings Modernization Initiative is chaired by Donald T. DeCarlo, an attorney with the Law Office of Donald T. DeCarlo. First Deputy Superintendent Martin A. Schwartzman and Deputy Superintendent General Counsel Martha Lees lead the effort for the Department. Senior Policy Advisor Michael Rasnick compiled the recommendations. Merline Smith, the Department’s Director of Insurance Filings Modernization, is responsible for implementing the group’s recommendations.

“I would like to thank the representatives of industry and my staff for their efforts on this important project. I cannot guarantee that we will be able to implement every suggestion, but I am determined to use these recommendations to substantially improve the operations of the Department,” Wrynn said.

The report containing the recommendations is posted at Members of the public or the industry who want to learn more about the initiative are urged to contact Ms. Smith at (518) 474-4567or access the Department’s website.


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