commerce and insurance

Lee approves modernization of captive insurance laws

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a groundbreaking event in Nashville on Dec. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A release from the state Department of Commerce and Insurance:

NASHVILLE – Newly approved updates to Tennessee’s captive insurance statute will help fuel the Volunteer State’s growing reputation as a first-choice domicile for companies looking to establish a captive insurance company.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee recently approved the latest modernizations to Tennessee’s captive laws, including authorizing parametric insurance coverage and reducing the statutory capital needed by protected cell captive insurers to commence operations from $250,000 to $100,000, amongst other improvements.

A captive insurance company (called a “captive”) represents an option for many corporations and groups wanting to take financial control and manage their business risks by forming their own insurance company. The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) is responsible for properly regulating Tennessee’s captive insurance industry.

“By reducing the minimum capital and surplus needed to start protected cell captive insurance companies, Tennessee is sending a strong message that we value companies’ freedom to invest their money to obtain the highest return on investment possible rather than allocate money in excess of what is needed to support the potential risk of insurance losses in their captive,” said TDCI Captive Section Director Belinda Fortman. “By modernizing Tennessee’s captive insurance statute to reduce the minimum coverage for protected cell captive insurers as well as including parametric insurance coverage for the first time, the Volunteer State is providing strong incentives for captive owners to choose Tennessee as their captive domicile.”

2020 was another record-setting year for Tennessee’s captive insurance section as captive premium volume topped $1.6 billion and the number of active captives in Tennessee increased to 146. Today, over 750 risk-bearing entities call Tennessee home. Additionally, TDCI’s leadership has drawn international accolades as Fortman was recently named to Captive Review magazine’s “Power 50” list.

Said Fortman: “Through the first five months of 2021,Tennessee has averaged 10 new captive formations a month, which is an impressive pace that we hope to see continue. The growth of the captive insurance industry in Tennessee that we are seeing today is a byproduct of years of focused teamwork and the far-reaching vision of Tennessee’s leaders. I am thankful for the hard work and support of Governor Lee, the members of the Tennessee General Assembly and the captive insurance stakeholders who are helping make Tennessee truly the ‘Gold Standard’ of the South.”

Tennessee Captive Insurance Association (TCIA) President Kevin Doherty said: “The TCIA is grateful that the Department and the General Assembly, two of the three legs of the proverbial three-legged stool, have continued to support important updates like this to the captive law that help Tennessee remain at the forefront of our industry. Specifically, the TCIA supports the reduction in the minimum capital for protected cell captives to $100,000 and believes this will help to spur significant growth in cell captives in Tennessee. The TCIA also believes it is significant that Tennessee is leading the way now in permitting captives to offer parametric insurance that can offer innovative ways to cover large numbers of insureds in natural disasters or other similar events. As the third leg of the stool, the TCIA looks forward to continuing to work with the other two legs of this public private partnership to maintain Tennessee’s prominence as a captive insurance domicile.”

To learn more about captive insurance in Tennessee, visit captive.tn.gov or call (615) 741-3805, (855) 809-0069 (toll free) or email at captive.insurance@tn.gov.

Former Sen. Jim Tracy joins Commerce Department

Gov.-elect Bill Lee speaks to a Chamber of Commerce event in Memphis on Dec. 6, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former state Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), who gave up his seat in 2017 when President Donald Trump appointed him as a state USDA director, is joining the state Department of Commerce and Insurance in Gov. Bill Lee’s administration.

Here are the personnel moves announced by the department on Friday:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) announces senior leadership role additions and staffing updates from Commissioner Carter Lawrence.

“With these senior leadership staffing updates, our Department is well positioned to continue our best-in-class service for Tennesseans and to further our mission of protecting Tennesseans through balanced oversight of insurance while fostering fair marketplaces and consumer education that promote the success of individuals and businesses while serving as innovative leaders,” said TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “I welcome these staff promotions and additions and thank them for their service to our great state.”

TDCI Staffing Updates:

Jennifer Peck assumes the role of Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer, while continuing in her role as Deputy Commissioner – overseeing Fire Prevention/State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy (TLETA)/Peace Officer Standards Training (POST) Commission and the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (TECB). Previously, Peck served as an Executive Director in the Division of Regulatory Boards. Prior to joining the Department, she was the owner of Peck Legal Group, PLLC, which specialized in domestic relations litigation and mediation. She is a graduate of Auburn University and the Regent University School of Law.

Toby Compton is promoted to Deputy Commissioner – overseeing Insurance, Regulatory Boards, Securities and TennCare Oversight. Previously, Compton served as Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Regulatory Boards for the Department. Prior to joining the Department, Compton was the President and CEO for Associated Builders and Contractors for Greater Tennessee, held leadership positions at the Metro Sports Authority in Nashville and worked at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. He is a graduate of Lipscomb University and Cumberland University.

Bill Huddleston is promoted to Assistant Commissioner for Insurance. A TDCI team member since 2014, Huddleston previously served as the Director of Insurance where he oversaw the division’s administration which includes agent licensing, company examinations, company financial analysis and other duties. A certified public accountant, Huddleston also served as Receivership Director in the Insurance Division. In 2017, he was a recipient of a Governor’s Excellence in Service Award for his leadership in the Division of Regulatory Boards. Before joining TDCI, Huddleston served as a legislative auditor with the Office of the Comptroller. A Nashville native, Huddleston is a graduate of Lipscomb University as well as Harding University. He is married with three children.

Alex Martin joins the Department as Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Regulatory Boards. Previously, Martin served as Deputy Director of External Affairs and Director of Appointments for Governor Bill Lee. In his prior role, Martin worked with the Lee Administration to appoint many of the members of the Department’s boards and commissions within the Division of Regulatory Boards. An eighth generation Tennessean, Alex is a graduate of Tennessee Tech and served on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Jim Tracy joins TDCI as a Senior Advisor to the Department. Tracy most recently served as State Director for USDA Rural Development in Tennessee – working with rural communities to address local issues including facilities, broadband, water and sewer. In this role he facilitated federal grants and lower-interest loans for businesses and citizens. Tracy’s list of public service spans decades – having previously served as a State Senator, Bedford County Board of Education member, President of the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, founding member of the Bedford County Economic Development and Tourism committee and Chairman of the Tennessee Leadership Council of the National Federation of Independent Business. For more than 20 years, Tracy owned and operated his own insurance company where he sold all lines of insurance. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin with a degree in Agriculture Education. Jim and his wife, Trena, have been married for over 30 years and have three sons: Chad, Craig and Connor.

Patrick Merkel is promoted to Director of Insurance after having served as Chief Counsel for Insurance, Securities and TennCare Oversight since July 2019. Merkel is on his second term of service with the Department. He first joined the Department in 2007 and worked with the Division of Regulatory Boards and as Chief Counsel for Fire Prevention and Law Enforcement. Merkel previously worked in private practice representing clients before the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, the Tennessee Office of the Attorney General and Reporter, state trial courts and the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Merkel is a graduate of Michigan State University and the University of Dayton School of Law. Patrick is married with a daughter and two step-sons.

Report: Former commissioner kept consulting gig, had free housing at state prison

Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Hodgen Mainda speaks in Nashville on Nov. 8, 2019. (Image Credit: Tennessee Department of Veterans Services)

Former state Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Hodgen Mainda kept a lucrative consulting contract with his former employer and lived in free state-owned housing on the grounds of the old Tennessee State Prison in Nashville, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Mainda left his senior position at Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board last year, but signed a consulting agreement with EPB that would pay him $8,300 a month (later revised to $5,000) at the same time he was employed in his $161,904-per-year role of commissioner.

After Mainda announced he was stepping down from his state job last month, news reports surfaced that he had been the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation after a subordinate alleged unwanted advances had been made during an out-of-state work conference in February. Mainda denied inappropriate conduct.

Gov. Bill Lee was dismissive about questions over the propriety of holding a senior role in his administration while at the same time being paid by an outside entity, saying “alternative streams of income” are allowed as long as
they don’t present a conflict of interest. Mainda included consulting work in his state ethics disclosure, but didn’t say for whom he was serving as an adviser.

Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Dorinda Carter told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that when TDOC Commissioner Parker reached out congratulate Mainda on his new job last year, he mentioned he was looking for housing. Parker offered Mainda the use of a home on the former prison property usually reserved for wardens, assistant commissioners, and staff.

“It was intended to be temporary,” Carter said. Mainda only moved out in October.