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Friday, 22 May 2015 00:00

Newly Appointed MA Insurance Commissioner Daniel Judson Addresses Labor Rates & Affordable Auto Insurance

Daniel R. Judson was recently appointed as the Commissioner of Insurance in Massachusetts by Governor Charlie Baker. The Division of Insurance is a regulatory agency housed in the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations (OCABR).

Autobody News asked Commissioner Judson to share information about his background and some of his plans in this new role.

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“Insurance is an increasingly complex industry, as companies merge or are acquired and ownership interests reflect issues at the state, the national and even the international level,” said Judson. “My job is to keep our team focused on monitoring the solvency of all insurers and producers licensed to do business in Massachusetts, in order to provide the industry and insurance-buying public with a financially healthy insurance market.”

An attorney with more than 25 years of experience in the private and public sectos, Judson worked at the Division of Insurance for 15 years as general counsel and deputy commissioner. He then spent 12 years in the private sector, working as a partner in the insurance practice of Morrison Mahoney LLP, as compliance manager for a Massachusetts-based insurer; and as the president of the high-risk pool for auto insurance in the state.

“As the Commissioner of Insurance, Daniel Judson brings a wealth of insurance experience from the public and private sector, and is a great addition to the team at Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations,” said Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“We are very pleased to bring someone with Dan’s background and experience to the Division of Insurance,” said OCABR Undersecretary John Chapman. “His experience will be an asset as we represent consumers in this crucial aspect of the lives of Massachusetts residents.”

Judson said the Division of Insurance serves as the financial regulator of the insurance industry in the state. “The insurance industry touches many other parts of our economy, and as regulators, we consider all factors that influence the auto insurance market,” he said.

When asked about the Department of Insurance’s involvement in the Multi-District Litigation in Florida filed by more than 500 body shops across the country against the nation’s top insurers alleging “steering” and “suppression of labor rates,” Judson said that through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Massachusetts can monitor developments in other states that influence best practices in their work.

“Court proceedings in other states will not necessarily have a direct impact in Massachusetts, but we are always eager to learn from the challenges our regulatory counterparts face.”

In regards to labor rates in the collision repair industry, Judson said that a year ago the Massachusetts legislature looked at requiring the Commissioner of Insurance to set minimum hourly labor rates for auto body repair shops based on average rates in neighboring states.

“That bill (H.883) was ordered to further study and has been re-filed in this session (H.969),” said Judson. “We will continue to monitor the pending bill as it proceeds through the legislative process.”

Another priority Judson mentioned is keeping auto insurance affordable and available for all Massachusetts drivers.

“Since the introduction of managed competition in the state’s auto insurance market in 2008, 15 new insurers have begun writing premiums for Massachusetts’s drivers, allowing them greater choice, innovative productions and often, lower premiums.”As he begins his term, Judson said, “The shared focus on company solvency and consumer protection are key to the continued health of the insurance market in Massachusetts.” 

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