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November 18, 2020 PROFILE

Insurance Regulation Committee: The Premier Insurance Regulatory Resource

Francine L. Semaya

The Insurance Regulation Committee (IRC), formerly the Public Regulation of Insurance Law Committee, is a TIPS general committee that is unique in its mission and diverse membership. IRC brings together a vast complement of attorneys from the insurance regulatory arena—not only plaintiffs, defense, and in-house counsel practicing in insurance regulation and compliance, but also members from academia, insurance trade associations, and insurance regulators—representing both the property/casualty and life/health industries. Our membership consists of approximately 350 attorneys from across the country and includes some international members. IRC has proudly represented the insurance industry for decades and continues to lead the industry through its innovative programming and publications.

For almost 50 years, IRC has been a participating committee in the annual TIPS Midwinter Symposium. For over 20 years, this program was held at the prestigious Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, attracting hundreds of insurance company CEOs and general counsels. IRC focuses its presentations on hot topics in insurance regulation that appeal to both the property/casualty and life/health industries, including market conduct examinations, insurance insolvency issues and guaranty funds, producer licensing, and a myriad of topics emanating from the model laws and regulations promulgated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Among the highlights of panels was the 2017 Midwinter Symposium “hot topics” panel. Less than 24 hours before the panel, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced the successful completion of negotiations for a bilateral covered agreement between the European Union and the United States on prudential measures regarding insurance and reinsurance. IRC was able to present the first and most comprehensive review of the then controversial covered agreement, addressing the concerns of the NAIC, state regulators, and the industry. This is just one example of how IRC stays on top of hot topics in insurance regulation and often is first to present comprehensive programs and articles available to TIPS members.

The focus of IRC and its membership, until recently, was mostly centered on insurance regulatory matters at the state level. After IRC’s merger with the TIPS Federal Involvement in Insurance Regulation Modernization and Health Care Reform Task Force (FIIRM), the committee expanded its focus to include federal and global insurance and reinsurance matters, studying and reporting on the reauthorizations of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, National Flood Insurance Program, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and, most recently, COVID-19 and its impact on consumers and the insurance industry.

The committee’s members are an energetic and committed group. We hold monthly teleconferences where we develop ideas for programs and publications and share knowledge across our vast areas of concentration. Significantly, we have a number of committee chairs who have moved up into TIPS leadership, including Don Haskell and T. Richard Kennedy, who went on to become chair of TIPS, along with former IRC chairs, such as Bert Thompson, Alan N. Gamse, Lenore Marema, Francine L. Semaya, and Alan Rachlin, who served in numerous TIPS leadership roles, including TIPS Council. Semaya went on to represent TIPS on the House of Delegates for six years. We are proud that many past chairs remain active in the committee, continuing to contribute to its programming and written materials and serving as mentors to our new members.

One of the committee’s strengths is its ability to foster associations and develop quality programs not only with other TIPS general committees—including providing regulatory panels at both the Insurance Coverage Litigation and Property Insurance Law midyear meetings and cosponsoring programs with the Excess, Surplus Lines and Reinsurance, Life Insurance Law, and Health and Disability Insurance Law Committees—but also with outside organizations. IRC has cosponsored programs with the Federation of Regulatory Counsel, International Association of Insurance Receivers, Insurance Federation of New York, and New York City Bar Association. IRC introduced the concept of regional meetings, bringing quality TIPS programs to our members and regulators in New York; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Chicago; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Boston. Most notable was our National Institute on Insurance Insolvency, which brought hundreds of attendees from the U.S. and overseas during the most crucial years facing the failure of multinational insurers.

Most recently, IRC presented a well-attended comprehensive CLE webinar, under the guidance and coordination of immediate past chair Timothy Penn, Travelers Insurance. The program, “State Insurance Regulators’ Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was presented by eight of the committee’s well-regarded members: Briana M. Montminy, current IRC chair, Burr & Forman; Russell Buhite, Ogletree Deakins; Anthony Macauley, Kegel, Tobin & Truce; Carolyn A. Rupprath and Rachel Giani, Winstead PC; Gregory J. Lestini, Bricker & Eckler; Francine L. Semaya, legal and insurance regulatory consultant; and moderator Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig. The written materials were produced by Jeffrey E. Thomas, University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law.

The committee prides itself on its publications. Our current committee newsletter editor, Eric Gerst, continues to produce the most comprehensive and informative editions, with articles written by TIPS members. Authoring an article is a great way to get involved in committee activities. We are always looking for articles to include—especially on “hot” or current topics of interest to the committee on regulatory, compliance, and federal insurance issues. We participate in the TIPS Annual Survey and have published books over the years that are still relied on by the industry, including many nonmembers. An example is the Reference Handbook on Insurance Company Insolvency, which has often been referred to as “the bible on insurance insolvency law.”

The committee continues to reach out to young lawyers to become involved in our active community. We are working hard to showcase how we are a diverse and inclusive group and encourage you to join us on our monthly calls and become more involved. We hope to continue to grow, not only in the number of members but also as a positive force within TIPS.

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Francine L. Semaya, past chair of IRC, served for three years on TIPS Council and six years as TIPS’s representative on the ABA House of Delegates. She is currently a legal consultant in insurance regulation, reinsurance, insurance insolvency, and transactional matters and serves as an expert witness and consultant on insurance regulatory, reinsurance, and insolvency matters.