Commentary December 15, 2021 at 07:44 AM Share & Print
What You Need to Know
- Jack Friou was the director of government relations at Aflac for about 20 years.
- Thomas Mays was vice president of government relations at Pacific Life for 26 years.
- AITC organizers say the group will promote ethical, technology-driven innovation in insurance.
Insurance government relations veterans are helping to start a new insurance technology advocacy group.
Jack Friou and Thomas Mays are two of the people helping to bring the American InsurTech Council to life.
The Washington-based group will “serve as a dedicated, independent advocacy organization that advances the public interest in InsurTech through its commitment to ethical, technology-driven innovation in insurance,” organizers say. “AITC will pursue the public policy interests of InsurTechs, insurance carriers, and other InsurTech stakeholders by providing advocacy, policy research, education, outreach to regulators, other policymakers and the general public, across all lines of insurance.”
AITC will help member organizations that are interested in insurance technology work with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the National Council of Insurance Legislators as well as with state and federal policymakers, organizers say.
Friou worked at Aflac from 1973 through 2009, and he served as the company’s director of government relations for about 20 years. He then started Tangent Point Solutions, a public policy consulting firm.
Mays started out as mayor of Huntington Beach, California, and then as a member of the California Assembly. He went on to serve as vice president of government relations at Pacific Life Insurance Company from 1993 through 2019.
The other AITC co-founders are Scott Harrison, Teri Hernandez and J.P. Wieske.
Harrison promoted a shift to principles-based for years.
Wieske worked for the Council for Affordable Health Insurance and later, from 2011 through 2019, was the deputy insurance commissioner in Wisconsin. In 2019, he went to work as a vice president at Horizon Government Affairs.
Hernandez runs a strategic planning and advocacy firm based in San Francisco and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
AITC is now based in Horizon Government Affairs’ office in Washington.
Although AITC is having its official launch now, Harrison has been working on setting it up since October 2019. Mays and Wieske have been on board since January 2020.
In November 2020, the council submitted a comment letter to the NAIC to address the topic of rebating, in connection with how regulations in that area might affect insurtech programs that encourage policyholders to try to be healthier and safer.
The council submitted a comment letter, related to efforts to address the possibility that new insurance technology could contribute to racial bias, to the NAIC in May 2021.
“Race-based discrimination and bias have no place in the business of insurance and where instances of such exist they should be addressed,” Harrison and the other co-founders wrote in the letter. “We believe that this can be done without altering the commitment to the core principles of risk transfer, risk mitigation, pricing, consumer protection, and an unalterable commitment to insurer solvency that have been the foundation for state-based regulation in the U.S. for well over a century.”
AITC says it will do policy research and provide educational programming as well as helping with advocacy.
Harrison said in a comment about the AITC launch that co-founders believe promoting responsible technology-based innovation across all lines of insurance is a matter of the highest public interest and will improve people’s lives.
“AITC is committed to the development of clear regulatory standards for InsurTech that encourage innovation while ensuring transparency and essential consumer protections,” Harrison said.
Wieske said insurtech can help insurers improve public access to insurance products, and especially in underserved markets.
Another role AITC might play is determining how everyone refers to insurance technology.
Some people write “insuretech.” Early on, the group seems to have put the E in the middle of that term in some website links.
Since then, the group has moved to referring to its area of interest as “InsurTech,” with no E before the T, and a capital T.