KATV is reporting that Allen Kerr, state insurance commissioner since 2015, has resigned.
I have questions out to the governor and insurance department.
You might remember that, when Gov. Asa Hutchinson was planning his “transformation” of state government, Kerr proposed that insurance be the lead agency in a combination of insurance and various commercial functions. The deck chair re-arranging that Hutchinson ultimately put forward put insurance under the umbrella of Commerce, headed by Mike Preston.
The “transformation” including moving insurance out of its own building into a Riverdale high-rise into which the state consolidated a number of agencies. Preston had to find a use for the building after a plan to use it to lure a Raytheon investment fell through. The state bought the building rather than taking an option. It has created empty space all over town.
Early in his tenure, Kerr proposed a plan for a new office building for his department near the Capitol. That didn’t come to pass either.
UPDATE: The department issued this news release:
Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr today released the following statement to announce his resignation, effective March 27, 2020, to pursue opportunities in the private sector:
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as State Insurance Commissioner under Governor Hutchinson these last five years. Today, Arkansas is the destination for the insurance industry known as a place where a company can come and do honest business without being overregulated.”
During his tenure as Commissioner, Kerr recruited and welcomed 110 new insurance companies to do business in Arkansas, increased annual revenue to the state by $84.25 million, increased licensures 67.6%, and tripled the amount of captive insurers in the state—making Arkansas one of the fastest-growing captive markets in the country.
Under Kerr, the Arkansas Insurance Department also took responsibility for the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace. In it’s first year of operation under AID, Marketplace enrollment increased year-to-year for the first time since 2016 and over $13 million in combined savings to taxpayers and policyholders were realized due to the elimination of user fees charged to insurance carriers.
I’d like to know whether Kerr plans to go to work in some fashion for companies he once regulated. Several past insurance commissioners have made that transition. The department’s spokesman, K. Ryan James, said he had no informationon Kerr’s future plans and referred other questions to the Commerce Department.
ALSO: KATV reports a lawsuit filed this week by someone whose license was suspended by Kerr.