Celebrating Diversity: An interview with Doug Fahringer

June marks Pride month, a time to celebrate the progress and contributions that have been made in the US and globally by the LGBTQ+ community. In celebration and recognition of the month, NCIGF Director of Communications, Engagement, & Culture, Robin Webb-Reus, sat down with Pennsylvania P&C Guaranty Association’s General Counsel, Doug Fahringer, to discuss the importance of Pride and how people can show their support.

Doug Fahringer

Robin: Well, just to kick us off, can you tell us in your own words, what does Pride mean to you?

Doug: I guess it could mean different things to people…but for me, it is all about being authentic and being true and open about who you are. It is a way of celebrating and recognizing who you feel you are, not what others want you to be. Stepping outside the box, spreading your wings, and growing into that. It takes a while to feel proud because initially the main feeling is just ‘other’. You feel different. I would say to those wondering about living more authentically themselves but are scared, I would say it gets better. It is so freeing. It is just a rich feeling. I am very proud of who I am. It took me awhile to get here, but there is not going back once you are here.

Robin: Doug, you had the opportunity to present and share your story at SERIGA and then at the NCIGF Annual Conference, can you tell me about that experience?

Doug: Yes, definitely. SERIGA’s topic was entitled, “Getting DEI in your DNA” and I felt like I had it in my DNA already; I just did not acknowledge and accept it in myself until much later in life. Therefore, when we began to speak about DEI on the panel, I found myself going off-script a bit and sharing my own story of how I was with the Pennsylvania guaranty association a long time ago in a different role. At that time, I was in a much different place in my life. I lived a life that I thought was right for me at the time. I left and took another job. When I returned to the guaranty association as general counsel, I wanted my co-workers to know that I was not the same person that they knew twenty years ago. I shared on the panel that the response I got was so incredibly encouraging. I had been worried about how the team would receive the information and I had made it a much bigger deal in my mind. I felt support from my co-workers who expressed their support and that they were just happy to have me back.


When I was invited to speak at the NCIGF Annual Conference, it was focused more on DEI in the workplace – hiring, recruiting and retention. After our panel, where I also shared my personal story, we had a reception later that day. I was happy with those who approached me afterwards with positive feedback–from people that I did not know. They told me stories of people they knew or family members who had similar experiences. I was called brave and was praised for my vulnerability. I just saw it as me being honest and true to myself. However, I am so grateful that it struck people that way. I am glad that it made people think about this issue more or even in a different way.
So, having the opportunity to speak at SERIGA and then again and the Annual Conference was wonderful for me. Now I am excited to be on the agenda for the Legal Seminar coming up later this month. Having these opportunities to be part of the discussion and open the door to allowing people to be more comfortable with these topics or have a deeper understanding is something I find fulfilling.

Robin: And what has the response been like from the guaranty fund community so far?

2023 NCIGF Annual Conference

Doug: It has been overwhelmingly positive. I am happy to hear people’s stories. My main encouragement to those who came up to me after I presented was to tell those who might be young or afraid or even those who might be coming out later in life that it gets better. It feels so traumatic, but it is ultimately so freeing and positive. I always say to give yourself the chance. You are not alone. It is such a good, positive feeling to live your true life and be authentic.

Robin: I love that. I think about our community and the conversation that has been ongoing for these last couple of years and I think about the different guaranty association office across the entire U.S. and how they are all different shapes and sizes. What are some ways that all guaranty funds can participate in Pride, no matter their shapes, sizes, or geographic location?

Doug: After I spoke at SERIGA, I had a few people come up and express that they completely embrace the idea and want to dive in and figure out ways to promote DEI but noted that they were from a very small office located in a place lacking in diversity. I let them know that you do not actually have to have people from diverse backgrounds or people from the LGBTQ+ community working for you to embrace diversity in your office. It is more about acknowledging that we are here, and you are an ally. You do not have to march in a parade or perform community service or even give to a charitable organization, although that is important. It starts by recognizing, embracing and being an advocate for all people who are different.

Robin: That is good advice for everyone in our community. I have heard it said that a huge part of allyship is simply having a deeper understanding of the issues and doing some research, so you understand what things like Pride month are all about. Would you agree with that?

Doug: Absolutely, the more you know, the better off we all are. It is kind of like baby steps…you don’t expect change to happen overnight, it is little by little. It is things like this–what we are doing now. My hope is that someone reads this interview, and it opens someone’s horizon even a small amount. Every little bit helps.

Robin: I’m so glad that our community has shown you support and encouragement. Thinking back to the membership as a whole as we wrap up – in your mind, what can our community do to continue to give a voice to members of the LGBTQ+ community?

Doug: I would simply say to everyone: there is plenty of room at the table. I am very excited and encouraged to have a seat at this table where we are able to talk about and highlight these issues, to create educational topics and initiatives to drive the work of DEI.  It is not like musical chairs where if I am invited and given a seat that means I am taking someone else’s chair. There is room for all people from diverse backgrounds and with different experiences to contribute to the conversation. The more diverse experiences we have around the table, the richer community we are. It makes us all better. I think of the different sized guaranty associations, even if you do not have a lot of diversity in your particular office, you can have a richly diverse community overall. So, if you see someone that is different from you, embrace them for their differences. Begin a dialogue with them. Include those different perspectives in the decisions you are making. Welcome them to the table. Listen and know that we can all bring something meaningful to the conversation.

Robin: I completely agree, and I want to encourage anyone who wants to be involved in this ongoing discussion to be as engaged as they would like to be. We have open spots on the DEI Subcommittee. You can reach out to me and I will make sure you are included in those planning sessions. Also, I understand that there might be people who have ideas or thoughts that they may want to share but are maybe not ready to be part of the committee. Anyone can reach out to me and we can speak one-on-one.
Thank you so much, Doug, for speaking with me today, for sharing your story and for continuing to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. We are excited to kick off Pride month and to work together to help create a more accepting and diverse culture throughout the NCIGF membership.

Doug: Thank you for the opportunity, Robin. Happy Pride!


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion topics will be part of all NCIGF educational agendas throughout 2023. For more information on NCIGF events please click here: Upcoming Events – NCIGF

Both interview participants have agreed to share their contact information here if anyone in the community wishes to contact them about this article.

Robin Webb-Reus
Director of Communications, Engagement & Culture, NCIGF

Doug Fahringer
General Counsel, Pennsylvania Property & Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association




2023 NCIGF Annual Conference Highlights

Watch the highlight video!

The 2023 NCIGF Annual Conference took place in Seattle, Washington on April 20-21. Well attended by many members, it was a fine picture of the “N” in NCIGF with representatives in attendance from all corners of the continental United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Alaska! Day one of the conference included the Annual Meeting of the Members where representatives or proxies from the membership voted on NCIGF business matters including financials, the NCIGF board of directors, and a new bylaw, allowing NCIGF to engage in direct lobbying in partnership with the national P&C trades and member state guaranty funds.

Susan Daniels (Alaska), Roger Schmelzer (NCIGF) & Rafael Rocher (Puerto Rico)

Day one emcee, John Wells, chair of the NCIGF Education Committee, opened the conference by encouraging everyone to come to the educational portion of the event with their minds open and ready to learn. “Step into the messiness of life and decide to get better: for our shops, for ourselves, and for our community.” The first day of the conference also included remarks by outgoing chairman, Chad Anderson, who likened the insurance system to the intricate inner workings of a time piece noting, “Our little piece of the insurance ‘watch’ is extremely important.” Other highlights from the day included presentations on natural catastrophes, running guaranty funds like a small business, a diversity, equity and inclusion panel, as well as the presidents report from Roger Schmelzer, where he once again congratulated Mr. Anderson on two exceptional years as chairman of the organization, which was met with a standing ovation from the audience. 

That evening, the membership congregated for a reception where NCIGF recognized the 2023 Gates Marchman Award winner, the late Steve Uhrynowycz, former Arkansas guaranty fund manager who passed in 2022. In an emotional and beautiful acceptance speech, his wife Cindy recognized Steve and his memory as well as his love of the insurance industry and community. Mike Surguine, Ron Hope, and Jim Winskowicz (winner of the first Gates Marchman Award in 2015 and a close friend of Steve’s) were all in attendance at the award ceremony to honor Steve’s memory.

Cindy Uhrynowycz accepts the 2023 Gates Marchman on behalf of her late husband, Steve.

Barry Miller emceed day two of the conference which was kicked off by on intimate interview with NAIC President, Chlora Lindley-Myers (the Missouri Director of Insurance), with Lorrie Brouse serving as the interviewer. Lorrie asked thoughtful and poignant questions about Director Lindley-Myers’ career and trajectory within state insurance regulation. The director highlighted the hurdles she overcame coming  from a diverse background and representing minority groups in the industry. The day also included a financial panel from Wells Fargo and a deep dive into understanding NCIGF’s subsidiary, GSI. 

Overall, a palpable sense of community and excitement was evident throughout the conference as many opportunities for connection and networking were baked into the program. The NCIGF DEI Subcommittee created an interactive NCIGF “Bingo” game to encourage members to get to know one another. The subcommittee hosted a Networking Breakfast on day two where new members and people who want to be engaged on a higher level had an opportunity to come together with a table leader and have guided discussion to get to know one another. The agenda also included an interactive game, Fact or Fiction, with Tamara Kopp from Missouri serving as the lovely game show host. Much positive feedback was given for all of the connection and interactive events and NCIGF plans to include more things like these in future programs. One new initiative in particular was highlighted several times at the conference: a mentorship program spearheaded by the DEI Subcommittee. A question was included on the post-event survey to further glean the level of interest from the community. Look for more on that initiative in the coming months. 

NCIGF will host their Legal Seminar on June 21-22 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, followed by a stand-alone board meeting in Indianapolis in August. For more information on future NCIGF events, click here.

Grand Hyatt Seattle

NCIGF 2022 Fall Workshop Highlights

The 2022 Fall Workshop took place in beautiful, bustling (and chilly) San Antonio on November 17-18 at the Westin Riverwalk. Our highest attended event post-COVID, the workshop was packed with outside speakers and panelists, interactive opportunities as well as familiar faces. “We see ourselves as partners in protection,” was how Commissioner Cassie Brown welcomed the group to the great state of Texas, not only noting the good work that TPCIGA is doing, but also recognizing the community’s public policy efforts at the NAIC and beyond. This, along with hearing from NCIGF Board Chairman, Chad Anderson (WGFS), getting an important update from the southern states, diving into cyber coverage with representatives from Chubb, and having the opportunity to hear from a panel of vendors on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion rounded out the first half of a thought-provoking day one. The DEI topic discussion, so wonderfully presented by the vendor panel, was continued at lunch round tables along with other round table groups covering accounting topics. The second half of the day featured NCIGF President and CEO, Roger Schmelzer, as he updated the membership on all things NCIGF via his President’s Report. And the educational portion of the day was concluded by all attendees participating in a tabletop exercise, breaking into small discussion groups with community experts floating around to help answer questions as the red, blue, and green teams dealt with a mock cyber insolvency situation. The whole day wrapped with a fellowship-centered reception, featuring a heartfelt sendoff to Mr. Marvin Kelly (TX), as he celebrated the workshop as his last event with the guaranty fund community before retirement.

Day two kicked off with takeaways from the tabletop exercise followed by a panel on receivership fiduciary duties. The day’s agenda also included a reflective and encouraging interview with Marvin Kelly with the Texas Executive Director of 30+ years noting, “These aren’t just [claim] files, these are people’s lives…” as he inspired the audience, who later gave him a standing ovation, to take to heart the important and impactful work the guaranty funds do. New NCIGF staffer, Mike Ulmer, wrapped up the day highlighting NCIGF’s IT Security posture and what to expect from the organization in days ahead.

The entire workshop was humming with robust conversation at breaks and meals, great questions from audience members and just the right amount of levity and insightful remarks from the two fantastic emcees, Kerry Nations (TN) and John D’Amato (TX).

Many thanks to the NCIGF Education Committee members and NCIGF staff support for putting together a phenomenal agenda as well as Lynn Cantin from NCIGF for executing yet another great session. The next NCIGF event will be the 2023 Annual Conference, slated to take place in Seattle, WA, on April 20-21, 2023. For a list of all NCIGF Events, please click here.

To see even more from this great event, check out our highlight video.

NCIGF Makes Progress at NCOIL

NCIGF-advocated measures received favorable action during the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) meeting last week in Charleston, S.C.

Language was approved making it an express requirement that the Commissioner find that guaranty association coverage is not disrupted before approving a division plan. NCOIL Committee members noted that the model as adopted was a positive development and parallel changes should be made to the previously adopted NCOIL IBT Model. Also adopted as part of the P&C GF Model was the NCIGF’s new language related to insurance company restructurings ensuring guaranty fund coverage neutrality.

“We appreciate the attention of NCOIL members to important issues that impact the state guaranty funds,” said Roger Schmelzer, NCIGF CEO. “It’s critical to state regulation that insurance policyholders be protected and that we know when that protection is in place even while the marketplace and policymaking evolves.”

Divisions and IBT. NCIGF has been keeping an eye on the development of division and insurance business transfer (IBT) statutes around the country. NCIGF has been concerned that guaranty fund issues have not been adequately addressed in some cases. Jointly with NOLHGA, NCIGF has developed language to clarify the need for the commissioner to review guaranty fund coverage issues during the approval process for these transactions. Further, the provisions assigned the burden of demonstrating the impact on guaranty fund coverage to the applicant insurance company. The revisions are consistent with the NCIGF policy that guaranty fund coverage should not be disrupted by a division or insurance business transfer (IBT). That is, if the claim would have been covered before the transaction that coverage should remain in place after. However, guaranty fund coverage should not be created by a transaction when it did not exist before the transaction.

Special Funding Committee language. Changes were also adopted to the NCOIL Model Property Casualty Guaranty Fund model to add optional assessment language that would give guaranty associations the ability to assess for administrative and overhead costs in periods of low claim activity. NCIGF was successful in achieving adoption of this model in 2008. It is often used as a resource for states considering amendments to their acts.

At the April meeting, the Committee adopted optional assessment language designed to provide guaranty associations the ability to assess for administrative and overhead costs in periods of low claim activity. (A provision developed by the NCIGF Special Funding Committee.)  Further, the Committee adopted the NCIGF’s new language related to insurance company restructurings. This language, consistent with NCIGF policy ensures that guaranty fund coverage remains in place after a transaction, but such coverage is not expanded.

Schmelzer said that since NCOIL membership is composed of state legislators whose focus is insurance issues in their states, NCIGF engages at that level to build public policy bridges by which to share to its trusted, non-partisan expertise. “It’s a win-win; work at NCOIL often translates to state legislative efforts and NCIGF has expertise on a very discrete area of insurance policy,” Schmelzer said.

He also said that NCIGF will be working with NCOIL to develop amendments to its IBT model. Committee members also expressed interest in a general update on guaranty fund matters which NCIGF will provide.

Barbara Law and Jenny Anzalone-Ackley Elected to NCIGF Board

Two new NCIGF board members were elected at the most recent Board of Directors meeting held on February 19 in Sonoma, California. Barbara Law of Guaranty Fund Management Services (GFMS) and Jenny Anzalone-Ackley from Chubb were elected by the board to complete unexpired terms of former board members. Their elections were effective immediately.

Ms. Anzalone-Ackley will fill an industry vacancy for the next two years. She currently serves as Vice President and Deputy Director of the Assessments at Chubb Insurance Group. She began her time at Chubb in 2002 and has been part of the insurance industry for most of her career, specializing in financial services, IT and data management and compliance.

Barbara Law, a newer but familiar face among the NCIGF community, is the current President and CEO at GFMS. Stepping into the role in 2018, Ms. Law’s background also includes many years of experience within the insurance industry. She is currently chair of the NCIGF Bylaws Committee and serves on the NCIGF Board Finance Committee. Ms Law is completing the final year of former NCIGF board member Chuck Renn’s term and will be eligible for election to a full three-year term in May 2021.

The NCIGF board is once again at a full complement of 20 members, 12 representing industry and 8 representing guaranty associations.

Barbara Law
Jenny Anzalone-Ackley

Inside the Industry: NCIGF at the Triple-I Joint Industry Forum

On January 15 NCIGF had the opportunity to attend the Joint Industry Forum, hosted by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I). This one-day conference, held in the heart of New York City, brought together the top thought leaders throughout the insurance industry and trades organizations as well as main-stream media representatives.

Triple-I CEO, Sean Kevelighan, welcomed all 165 attendees by sharing his thoughts about the future of insurance. He cited the importance of continued education, evolution and creativity within the insurance world. He highlighted the continued utilization of new tools to help communicate better to the consumer as well as the requirement of all entities involved to strive to bring clarity through disruption.

“It’s incredibly valuable for us to be here. An ongoing strategic objective emphasized in our  2020 business plan is to engage more with industry and events like this give us a great platform to build those relationships,” Roger Schmelzer, NCIGF President and CEO, noted. “We have an opportunity here to network and hear more about what is top-of-mind for the industry.”

It was a robust program that included a full day of panels and speakers, with topics ranging from ‘Extreme Weather’ to ‘Insurance Vision: Seeing Beyond 2020’. Familiar faces from news media gave presentations, including Margaret Brennan, moderator of Face the Nation from CBS News and Dr. Rick Knabb, Hurricane Expert from The Weather Channel.

Roger Schmelzer is interviewed by AM Best

“We are part of their story,” Schmelzer continued. “These folks sit on our members’ boards and help guide public policy for the insurance world. We need to be part of the conversation, highlighting the value of the guaranty fund system.”

While at the conference, Schmelzer was asked to be interviewed by AM BestTV. See Roger’s interview with Meg Green here.

NCIGF Announces Policy Position on Restructuring at Austin NAIC meeting

At the Austin meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) the NCIGF presented its position on guaranty fund coverage related to claims that might arise from business that is restructured pursuant to statutes in several states. These statutes, which are described as either Insurance Business Transfer (IBT) or Division statutes, permit a company to divest itself of certain blocks of business.  The transferring company has no liability should the assuming entity be ordered into liquidation. Further, the statutes permit various lines of business to be transferred including workers compensation and other personal lines.

The NCIGF expressed concern that under current guaranty fund law many claims presented to guaranty funds would not be considered “covered claims” – that is claims eligible for guaranty fund coverage should the assuming entity be liquidated.

To address this matter the NCIGF announced a multi-state effort to revise guaranty fund statute to afford claimants who are entitled to coverage before the restructuring transaction to have such coverage after the transaction. Further, the law adjustments will not permit claims to be covered if the claimant had no guaranty fund coverage before the transaction. This would include products written on a surplus lines basis or written by risk retention groups and the like which are excluded from coverage under current law.

The complete NCIGF policy position and related information may be viewed at https://www.ncigf.org/industry/public-policy-and-legislation/

Barbera Selected to Serve as Executive Director in Oklahoma

On November 1, Amanda Barbera officially became the Executive Director for the Oklahoma Property & Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association. Notably, Ms. Barbera was the past Executive Director, serving in Oklahoma from 2015 to 2018. Now based out of Indianapolis, she has been the Executive Director for the Indiana Insurance Guaranty Association since 2018. “It is incredibly rewarding for me because I can continue in my capacity in Indiana but also have the opportunity to work with Oklahoma, a state where I still have several ties and a strong appreciation for the work they do after serving there for so many years,” Ms. Barbera said in a statement to NCIGF.

The decision was made in Oklahoma after the association’s board met in September to review a proposal from Barbera outlining the contractual relationship where she would liaise with them, oversee the office operations and help lead and fulfill the mission of the Oklahoma organization, including insolvency management. “My role will be to represent both states’ interests when necessary. For instance, if I’m on a coordinating committee where both Indiana and Oklahoma have claims, I will be on the committee on behalf of each entity.” (Contractually, any conflict of interest would be raised to the board level.)

One key to Amanda’s success is the quick turnaround with her onboarding process. Since the work of guaranty funds is specialized, the utilization of Ms. Barbera’s expertise ensures that there will be no lulls in service for the Oklahoma Property & Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association, as she already understands the employees as well as the relationship with the receivership office.

Ms. Barbera will remain based out of Indianapolis but plans to return to Oklahoma regularly to manage as well as meet and coordinate with the Oklahoma association board.

Merced Property & Casualty Company: A Deeper Dive (continued story from the 2019 Fall Workshop)

“This is the Essence of What the Guaranty Funds Exist to Do…” – Brad Roeber

Brad Roeber
Executive Director, CIGA

One of the highlights of the 2019 Fall Workshop was a panel entitled, Disaster Sight: Listening to History for Creative Problem Solving. Among the panelists was Brad Roeber, Executive Director of the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA). Mr. Roeber gave a brief overview regarding a creative solution he employed in late 2018 when it came to the liquidation of Merced Property & Casualty Company, a small California Central Valley insurer impacted by the California wildfires. This is a closer look at that situation as well as a challenge from Mr. Roeber to all Guaranty Funds to secure the future of the system by leveraging creativity as well as compassion.


Robin Webb, NCIGF Communications & Member Support Manager: Brad, you’re the current Executive Director over at CIGA, tell me about stepping into that role as a former Industry representative.

Brad Roeber, Executive Director, CIGA: I served on the NCIGF Board as an industry member for a number of years so I have a fairly unique point of view, especially given that I ended up choosing to work with the guaranty funds for a living, now being the CIGA executive director. I believe in the mission very much and I thought that, at this time in our history, there was an opportunity to lead in a different way. We exist solely to serve consumers who have no place else to go. Everything that I’m doing and everything I’m encouraging my employees to do is to think about the people that are sitting there with nothing…whether it’s an injured worker in the comp world or it’s a claimant of a non-standard auto insured who has gone down or the folks up in Paradise, California who, in one day, lost everything and then a few weeks later, lost their insurance too.

Robin: And you’d only been in your role a short time when the California wildfires tore through this heavily wooded area in the Butte County? Tell me about getting creative when it came to helping those claimants from Merced who lost their homes.

Brad: Yes. Whether you call it creative solutions or just finding answers where maybe there are no obvious ones, to me that’s what we need to do. I’m not the first person who’s hired existing staff to handle an insolvency, but it goes beyond that. Now we’re leveraging those people [from Merced] who did a great job for us to do more work and keep them on the payroll longer, so there is an economic value to how we handled it. And, talking about Merced specifically, we are going to handle that estate with an administrative expense load that’s exceptionally low. And that is because we didn’t have to pay southern California salaries to those folks, and we didn’t have to pay the overhead of southern California. We paid the overhead in a little farm town in the middle of the agricultural part of the state. There are all kind of little savings like that just from being open to new possibilities. And like I’ve said, utilizing existing staff is not a new idea, but I think the way we leveraged it in this particular case was a little different.

Robin: Take us back to the very beginning. What happened with Merced?

Brad: The story of Merced is a pretty simple one. I had gotten here at the end of September 2018 and on November 8th, the fire starts. We got a call saying that there was this little central valley carrier that was a hundred years old and it was likely to go under. Most of their book of business was property and so it was pretty clear that something was going to go down. As it turns out, some of their employees knew within a week that they were done because the company had about $30 million in assets and the exposure was within the $100million range. So, we knew…it’s going to go.

Robin: In your time in the insurance world, had you ever experienced a disaster like this?

Brad: One of the things that was interesting here, and it’s a good lesson for the future of the guaranty funds, was I was among just a few people at CIGA that had ever actually been involved in a property disaster and had adjusted property claims. My experience, a lot of which was in the Midwest, was with tornadoes and things of that nature. I had been on site in multiple places where a tornado had ripped through and the houses were completely gone. There was one that happened a little east of Peoria a few years back where people were sitting at home on a Sunday morning eating breakfast and the next thing they know, the alarm is going off, they are running to the basement and the house is just gone. So, I had some pretty unique experience around those types of situations and adjusting those property claims.

Robin: When you heard about Merced, what was your first step?

Brad: I decided to go up there and see the people (and this was before the liquidation order). I went up to the Merced offices and talked with the claims staff and told them that it appeared that the company is in trouble but that the guaranty funds are the backstop for it and at CIGA I didn’t have anybody that knows how to adjust claims on property…so, would you be willing to work with us? We tried to be creative about engaging them and we set up a ‘stay bonus’ system to reward them if they stayed until the end of the insolvency.

We had our people lined up to handle everything and then it started. We went to work and began adjusting the claims. The fire had started on November 8th and right after Thanksgiving the fire finally got put out, so it burned fully for about three weeks. Then, on December 3rd the company was declared insolvent. Because of the pre-planning we had done and the fact that there was not a huge number of claims, we actually started issuing checks on that Friday, December 7th. The next week, in earnest, we were producing more checks for those folks, allowing the coverage gap to be minimal, almost nonexistent.

Robin: You mentioned specifically some creative solutions in regard to claim caps, tell me more about that.

Brad: The CIGA statute says that we could pay a maximum of $500,000 per claim for non-workers compensation claims. We talked in advance with our counsel and discussed the option of looking at the caps differently. Instead of one homeowner’s claim, we look at the homeowner’s policy in multiple parts where there are four basic coverages – dwelling, structures, contents and additional living expenses. We developed the option of treating this as four claims as opposed to one single claim.

Robin: Why was this solution so important to you?

Brad: This is the lens I was looking through: If we don’t find a creative way to deal with this part of it, then we will not represent the insurance industry as a safety net. Because of this four-coverage approach, we were able to cover the entirety of people’s claims with the exception of just a few (maybe 30-40 whose domicile exceeded the $500,000 cap). It created a productive solution out of a situation that was really awful for these people. It allowed them to move on with their lives.

Robin: And there was another area, the contents portion of the coverage, that you dealt with pretty swiftly as well, right?

Brad: Yes. When you adjust a property claim and there is contents damage, typically it’s handled by the consumer providing an inventory and the adjuster going through the list of all of the homeowner’s items and coming up with a cash value for all of those items. Then, when the consumer actually goes out and purchases those items, they provide proof, and only then can they be paid the difference. Obviously, it’s a pretty arduous process. Well, we decided to offer to pay eighty percent of whatever the contents coverage amount was, without an inventory. No questions asked. Again, that piece of it, that type of solution had been done before but not very often and not so efficiently or at such a high percentage amount. And with the exception of just a handful of claimants, we have had no complaints.

Robin: Where did the Merced employees end up?

Brad: We’ve given them additional work to do. We have other work that had been done by third-party administrators and I’m starting to feed them additional files to adjust. It saves us money and also keeps them employed. We wanted to reward them for being loyal to us and seeing this insolvency through to the end.

Robin: Thank you for sharing that story. It’s incredibly compelling.

Brad: It’s important to remember that this is not a tale of woe. This is not a story about a bunch of greedy insurance companies who try to do the wrong thing. This is a group of really well-intentioned people who have gotten educated and want to do a better job for the policyholders. The guaranty funds were there. We served these people who literally had no place else to go.

Robin: How do you balance the idea of going above and beyond to some who maybe have the mindset of not being a charity organization or taking up the mantle that their job is, in fact, to minimize the claims they pay?

Brad: I’m compelled because I’ve been on a disaster site before. The first time I went to a disaster site and looked into the eyes of one of my customers who had lost everything, that was a seminal moment for me almost fifteen years ago. At the time, I had forgotten why I’d gotten into the business – I had gotten caught up in making money and driving combined ratio and cutting claims cost and all of those things. I realized then that it wasn’t about any of that. It was about doing the right thing and taking care of these people. That was the promise. When you think about NCIGF, it’s about the promise. The promise isn’t that we make a lot of money…if it happens, then that’s great. But the promise is that we take care of people when they’ve lost everything and have no place else to go. It is a noble business.