February 19, 2016

Missouri Insurance Chief and NAIC President Huff addresses industry leaders at annual Insurance Coalition meeting

Lauds industry for thriving property and casualty markets, but expresses concern for concentrated health market

Jefferson City, Mo. - Missouri Department of Insurance Director John M. Huff pointed to Missouri's competitive auto insurance market as the reason Missourians enjoy some of the lowest auto rates in the country. He was a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Missouri Insurance Coalition on Thursday.

"Recent data released by the NAIC ranks Missouri 35th  for the cost of auto insurance, which means 34 states have higher premiums," said Huff. "Competition directly benefits consumers. It's no coincidence that Missouri has a highly competitive auto insurance market and has some of the lowest rates in the country." 

According to department data, for full coverage (liability + collision + comprehensive), the average annual premiums were only $11 higher in 2014 than in 2003, an increase of just 1.5 percent.  In real terms (adjusting for inflation), premium actually decreased by more than 20 percent. 

When discussing Missouri's health insurance market, Huff's tone towards the industry turned more stern. He said the health insurance market is among the most concentrated and least competitive in the state. Huff also noted a high level of concern regarding narrow network health plans and continuing concerns about the lack of rate transparency, citing the fact that health insurance is the top driver of the department's consumer complaints. 

"While products ranging from automobile insurance to pet insurance are subject to rate filings with the department, health insurance rates are not transparent, not subject to regulatory oversight and are not required to even be filed with the regulator," Huff said. "The market shares of the largest insurers indicate that the health insurance market is overly concentrated and is dominated by just a few carriers. The largest four insurer groups have a combined market share exceeding 90 percent in the overall market."

In addition, Huff discussed his priorities as NAIC president. He said the NAIC has made great progress on its path to transition to Principal-Based Reserving in the life insurance area. Thirty-nine states, representing 71 percent of the required premium have adopted the Standard Valuation Law. Huff said the NAIC stands ready to assist states with the technical resources to help with the transition.