Conn. Insurance Chief Seeks ‘Mints on Pillow’ Treatment for Public

December 28, 2007

Connecticut consumers dealing with the state’s insurance regulatory agency should be left feeling they were given “mints on their pillow,” according to the no-nonsense man in charge.

Insurance Commissioner Thomas R. Sullivan said he is conducting a thorough review of how the insurance department handles consumer complaints with an eye toward treating all complaints equally and making the public feel the state insurance department “put mints on their pillows,” which he said was his firm’s mission when he was in the private sector.

Sullivan spoke last month before a gathering of the Independent Insurance Agents of Connecticut.

As part of his strategy to revitalize the department, Sullivan has convened a consumer council to represent “stakeholders not previously represented” including consumers, trial lawyers and even the medical society.

“The insurance industry is well-represented already. We need a balanced perspective,” maintained the former senior vice president of Specialty Risk Services, LLC, a third party administrator for workers’ compensation that is a subsidiary of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.

He said he wants Connecticut to be the “go to” state for insurance innovation even as his own department takes an “aggressive” stand against “malfeasance.”

Sullivan, who took over the post in April from Susan Cogswell, said he inherited a backlog of 3,000 product filings and has already implemented an action plan to tackle this. “This will not be tolerated,” he added. “I can’t be a barrier to companies’ innovation.”

In an apparent shot at Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who has slammed the insurance department’s performance under his predecessor and intervened in various insurance issues, Sullivan said he intends to “elevate” the department’s image but without “grandstanding.” He stressed that insurance regulation rests with his office, not with any other.

Sullivan also strongly defended state regulation over federal regulation, suggesting that state commissioners across the country need to do a better job of publicizing their successes even as they further modernize and streamline operations.

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