By Mary Taylor
Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director
Because insurance agents and brokers play such a vital role in the purchase and sale of insurance, it is important to protect their role in the market place. As the Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, I work to ensure that all Ohio consumers have access to qualified, licensed agents and brokers. That is why I recently co-sponsored a resolution urging members of Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to change federal law that would harm agents and brokers who sell health insurance.
Whether property, life, auto, home or health insurance, there are times when insurance coverage is necessary. Ohio is fortunate to have more than 270,000 licensed agents and brokers working to help consumers understand insurance options while making sure every client’s coverage is suited for their unique situation.
Representing a significant portion of Ohio’s economy, these small business owners treat their clients like friends and neighbors because they are friends and neighbors. They are local, they know their communities, and most importantly, they know their client’s needs. Agents and brokers use their knowledge of insurance to help determine what coverage is best, and work on the client’s behalf to ensure they have a policy that protects them, their family and their interests. And after the sale of a policy, agents and brokers continue to assist their clients by providing a helping hand when and if claims arise.
The provision in federal law affecting agents and brokers is already showing negative impacts across the country and should be changed immediately. A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the number of health insurance agents and brokers decreased by 3.3 percent nationally during the first half of 2011.
Our economy is fragile right now. Any effort by government that harms small business owners – the engine of our economy – must be addressed immediately. Furthermore, at a time when consumers are facing a changing insurance market and increasing insurance premiums, we need qualified agents and brokers working with Ohio consumers.
The Department of Insurance will continue to focus on consumers while protecting Ohio’s competitive insurance market place so consumers have choices of coverage. Part of those efforts must include the continued support of Ohio’s agents and brokers. Individual and small business consumers deserve a good product at a fair price no matter what insurance they have. Your local agent or broker can help you understand your options and give you the tools to make the most beneficial choice for you, your family, and your business.