The Hippo


Jun 27, 2019








John Elias.

 What are you into right now?

Being new to New Hampshire, I’ve been spending the last two years doing all the things on those “Top 10 things to do in New Hampshire” lists.

Top insurance regulator
Assistant promoted to state insurance commissioner


 As the state’s insurance commissioner, how does your job affect the average Granite Stater?

Our job as an enforcement agency is to make sure all [insurance] companies in our state follow our laws. Being able to monitor the marketplace across the whole state and determine when companies are good actors or might be doing something that’s hurting our consumers is an intricate and important process. And beyond that, we make sure companies can pay their claims. The most problematic thing that can happen in insurance is when you pay your premiums, you finally go to use your policy and the company is out of money, and you don’t get anything from what you’ve invested. 
You previously worked at two property and casualty insurance companies. What was it like transitioning from private to public insurance roles?
If you’re going to regulate anything, you need to know how companies operate so you can make the right regulatory decision for consumers. Having worked as a vice president at private insurance companies, it now allows me to know why companies do what they do and tailor regulatory actions that actually impact consumers. I will say the two things that don’t exist on the private side is testifying for bills and talking to the media, and both have been welcome additions.
What have been your proudest achievements at the New Hampshire Insurance Department, and what do you hope to accomplish as commissioner?
I think I’m most proud of the strategic plan we put together and are now implementing. It was built by every single employee at the agency, so it’s created specific goals and objectives for every part of the department … I was also behind a reorganization effort at the department. Before there were mixed groups doing the same functions and cross training, but each department was focusing on specific aspects of the industry in New Hampshire. I felt like lining people up by their expertise helps us better address the challenges in each marketplace. I’m also very proud of our legislative work over last couple years. We helped pass a new bill which allows filings to speed through the process more quickly. … Individuals are out there buying insurance policies and they don’t have the negotiating powers that commercial businesses have to help get favorable coverage and rates. We feel our value to the public is better spent there. For the future, one of the bigger goals we have here is to have an impact on premium payments, and health costs are a driver of that. ... We [also] want to go after health care fraud in a meaningful way over the next couple years.
Health insurance has always been divisive. What are the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to New Hampshire’s health insurance marketplace in 2018?
The good: We are raising transparency for health insurance plans in New Hampshire on our website [], which allows residents to more effectively shop and compare rates. ... The bad: People in the individual market that are [below] the federal poverty level aren’t receiving proper federal assistance. … The ugly: We’re starting to hear from consumers that they’re being sold unlicensed products in New Hampshire, which are sold as an ACA compliant product. We’re looking at companies that are doing this and would like people to call us directly about that. 
What about the rest of New Hampshire’s insurance marketplaces? What are their strengths and challenges?
The property and casualty world is immense and, quite frankly, in need of regulatory oversight. ... If something goes wrong and claims aren’t paid, then people can lose their houses. ... We’re the only state without a mandatory insurance requirement for auto [insurance], yet we’re in the top portion of states in terms of insured drivers. … The technology they’re adding to cars these days is … a cause for concern. A bumper that might have cost a couple hundred dollars now might cost a couple thousand because of all the new features, and the reports I’ve seen haven’t shown that coverage levels are rising to the same extent. We have actuaries in the agency that review these companies to make sure the claims they’re selling offer adequate coverage. 
- Scott Murphy 

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