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.

SERIGA 2023

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
rwebb@ncigf.org

Doug Fahringer
General Counsel, Pennsylvania Property & Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association
dfahringer@ppciga.org

 

 

 

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.

2022 IT Summit Highlights

“This year’s IT Summit provided a lot of great information and provided some excellent thought-provoking discussions. I am looking forward to the next one!”

“Timely and Updated information for a small guaranty fund.”

“The connections made were invaluable.”

“Long live Chad jokes.”

 

The 2022 IT Summit was hosted in the city of live music Nashville, Tennessee, on June 30th and July 1st.  The event focused on the growing digital landscape that many companies face.  Kerry Nations, of Tennessee Insurance Guaranty Association, emceed the summit and, along with the opening remarks made by Chad Anderson (WGFS) and Mohamed Awad (CA), a sense of community and humor helped everyone ease into the day.

Day one focused on cyber security.  Chad Anderson (WGFS) was joined on stage by Dimitar Kotzev (GFMS) and together they hosted the interactive portion of the day.  They posted questions that got everyone thinking about their current cyber security measures.  Bradley Stine (Semper Sec) then spoke on risk assessment in the workplace specific to Guaranty Associations.  Following a brief break, Mohamed came back on stage this time joined by Devo Heller (CA).  Together they rolled out a ransomware tabletop exercise, walking the audience through a hypothetical scenario. This portion was also interactive with Mo and Devo getting the audience involved in identifying the points that went wrong and having them discuss what should have happened with one participant remarking, “Fun exercise! Really drove home how much more we need to know and prepared.”

Continuing the eventful first day, two breakout sessions were held, one hosted by NCIGF’s Nate Jennings discussing software development. The other breakout was moderated by Chad Anderson and NCIGF CEO, Roger Schmelzer, Lead Systems Engineer, Lee Minniear, and Senior Legal Counsel, Ashley Rosenberger, on NCIGF’s information security. One attendee remarked via the follow-up survey, “Thank you for your transparency.”

Day two started bright and early with Devo moderating a panel on Data Challenges in Receiverships that included Joe Holloway (CA Conservation & Liquidation Office), Jamin Dawes (OK Receivership Office), and Viji Krishnamoorthy (FL Department of Financial Services Division of Rehabilitation & Liquidation).

A significant highlight from day two was undeniably John Wells (LA) sharing about the influx of insolvency activity in Louisiana and surprising Nate Jennings and Devo Heller with certificates as Honorary Insurance Commissioners for their hard work on the insolvency data throughout the last several months.

Additional topics like hybrid workplace, data management and cyber security helped to wrap up the summit with one attendee noting the need for continually discussing cyber security measures. “This is a must to have each time. We can’t be too secure, and it is great hearing all the stats and what is currently going on in real time so we can defend our data and networks better.” Comments like these are the whole purpose of these events, providing much-needed ongoing education, development of new thoughts and processes as well as fellowship and conversations among peers.

The hope is to hold an IT Summit every other year as the ever-changing landscape of IT and data security continues to shift and progress.

To view a highlight reel of this event, click here.

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.

NCIGF Assessment Liability Report Updated through 2Q 2020

The NCIGF Assessment Liability Report has been updated and posted to the NCIGF website with P&C guaranty fund assessment information through June 30, 2020. The report assists insurers in estimating their P&C guaranty fund assessment liabilities while eliminating the need to contact the guaranty funds in each of their member states.

The Assessment Liability Report includes – by statutory account of each state guaranty fund – actual and projected assessment and refund activity, net assessable premium, maximum assessment capacity, assessment type and procedures, lines of business and recoupment provisions. The NCIGF publishes the Assessment Liability Report prior to the end of the second, third and fourth quarters.

The assessment information is located on the NCIGF website under the Industry tab and the drop-down menu titled “Assessment Liability Information”.  Historical P&C guaranty fund assessment reports are also included.

NCIGF Continues to Represent U.S. Guaranty System Worldwide

On April 21, I participated in a stakeholder teleconference convened by the Resolution Working Group (ReWG) of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS). ReWG, chaired by Alex Hart (a deputy in the U.S. Federal Insurance Office), is writing an application paper for use by global regulators in establishing and administering resolution powers in their country. James Kennedy from the Texas Department of Insurance and chairman of the NAIC Receivership and Insolvency Task Force also serves on the working group.

Prior to the meeting, NCIGF and NOLHGA submitted a joint letter that underscored two major points:

  • Policyholder protection schemes (PPS) are important partners in the insurance resolution process and not merely a source of funding; and
  • Early involvement in a resolution is a critical element of policyholder protection

We engage in these international processes because the concept of insurance resolution is evolving around the world. NCIGF and NOLHGA have been successful in persuading the IAIS that the protection of policyholders is equal to protecting counterparties when an insurance carrier fails which is not where the discussion started. Having made that case, the next objective is to continue to press the case for the importance of partnership between regulators and guaranty funds.

Bringing the guaranty fund system into the process at the earliest possible point of the liquidation leverages expertise and practices that will result in a seamless experience for the policyholder and support of the insurance promise. These are the same points we are making to our domestic regulators. It’s resulted in our inclusion in the confidential Receivership Financial Analysis Working Group (RFAWG) and has persuaded insurance receivers to consult with us much earlier to help our members to be better coordinated.

There’s also a parallel process underway at the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) intended to harmonize resolution authority across the European Union.

The EIOPA initiative matters to us because European regulators prefer having significant levels of capital already on hand with which to resolve an insurer failure, while the U.S. system is a post-event model.  Our goal with EIOPA is to make the case that there is no one way to pay for an insurance resolution. We want to keep the established and effective U.S. post-funding mechanics intact.

NCIGF has been working closely with the International Forum of Insurance Guarantee Schemes (IFIGS), of which we are a member, to take make this case, most recently at an EIOPA stakeholder meeting in late February.

IFIGS was asked to moderate a session on harmonization for EIOPA officials. While there’s been no final declaration from EIOPA officials, indications are that the U.S. argument in favor of multiple funding mechanisms was favorably received. I will keep you posted.

NCIGF Submits Comment on OK Business Restructuring Transaction

By Roger Schmelzer and Barbara Cox

The NCIGF has filed comments with as Oklahoma court in response to a petition to restructure certain policies of Providence Washington Insurance Company (PWIC) to Yosemite Insurance Company, pursuant to the Oklahoma Insurance Business Transfer statute. Both companies are affiliates of Enstar Group Limited.

Notably, the block of business proposed to be transferred includes workers compensation policies that were originally policies of the now insolvent ROA insurance company. These claims were serviced for some time by the guaranty funds before they were transferred to PWIC.

NCIGF’s comments called for the Court to consider the availability of guaranty association coverage for the transferred claims should Yosemite become insolvent. Further, NCIGF explained its position on the matter; that if there was guaranty fund coverage before the transaction there should be coverage after the transaction. Conversely, if there was not guaranty fund coverage before the transaction, coverage should not be created by the transaction.

The NCIGF also noted that it is not likely that most current state laws would be interpreted to achieve this result. NOLHGA and the Arizona Insurance Department also filed comments in the matter.

The transaction is representative of a trend in several states which have adopted statutes permitting division or transfer of blocks of insurance business to different entities. The relinquishing entity would have no residual liability for the business if assets become insufficient to cover claims. Guaranty fund coverage under current statutes for the transferred business under current guaranty fund law is unclear.

A pre-trial conference originally set for April 29 has been continued until September 23. The docket for this case may be accessed at https://www.oscn.net/dockets/GetCaseInformation.aspx?db=oklahoma&number=CJ-2019-6689.

NCIGF, NOLHGA and Arizona comments may be viewed at this link. NCIGF is represented in this matter by Derryberry and Naifeh, LLP.

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