Then-now comparison shows Kansas insurance accomplishments

by Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger

As I near the end of my stewardship as Kansas Insurance Commissioner, I found some interesting statistics about the insurance industry in Kansas while cleaning out some old files.

The comparisons below show how insurance in Kansas has changed over the past dozen years. Because most of the information is based on fiscal years (from July 1 of one year to June 30 of the next), I thought I would share with you how the numbers looked in fiscal year (FY) 2003 compared to the most current fiscal year numbers we have available.

Money sent to the state general fund—In FY 2003 the Kansas Insurance Department passed $94.9 million to the state general fund budget in collected fees and insurance taxes from companies and agents. In FY 2014, that number was $173.438 million.

Consumer complaints—I believe that every year I have been commissioner we have had fewer consumer complaints about insurance issues. In FY 2003 we had 5,757 actual filed complaints. In FY 2013 the number was 2,696. I think our emphasis on consumer education, and our advocacy for policyholders when they had issues with companies, have contributed mightily toward that decline. Being a savvy insurance consumer means taking care of concerns before they become issues.

Recovery of money for consumers—With the number of consumer complaints going downward year after year, that means that the amount of money we can recover from companies goes down too. In FY 2003 we recovered $7.58 million in money for policyholders over and above what the company offered in initial settlements; that number in FY 2013 was $3.83 million. Again, savvy consumers and KID advocacy stopped concerns from becoming complaints.

Number of licensed agents— With products and markets increasing, the number of licensed agents in Kansas has boomed during the past 12 years, mostly in the number of nonresident agents doing business in the state. In 2003 there were 23,292 resident agents and 33,768 nonresident agents. As of late November 2014 we had 22,535 resident and 92,284 nonresident agents for a total of 114,819. With that number, I think you could say the insurance potential for agents looks pretty good.

Number of department employees—When I began my tenure in 2003 KID had 157 full-time employees. Presently we have 123 FTEs. We have been able to reduce the number of employees because of enhancements to our computerized processes, natural job attrition and the hard work of the long-time employees who absorbed the workload.

Growth of the industry in the state—In 2003 the insurance industry in Kansas was an $11 billion economic force. Today that number stands at $17 billion. Through careful use of free market principles and judicious regulation, KID continues to oversee a vibrant industry that serves both consumers and companies fairly.

One other growth item—More than 240 additional companies have been licensed to do business in the state since 2003.

I’m proud of the accomplishments of the department and our staff members during my tenure. I believe, on the whole, we have done a good job of balancing the three-legged stool of regulation, education and advocacy.

The Kansas Insurance Department, established in 1871, assists and educates consumers, regulates and reviews companies, and licenses agents selling insurance products in the state. More about the department is online at www.ksinsurance.org or at www.facebook.com/kansasinsurancedepartment.

Foster care administrators leave DCF

Department says staff changes part of organizational re-evaluation
by Dave Ranney, KHI News Service

Topeka — A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families on Tuesday announced that Deputy Secretary Kathe Decker and Prevention and Protection Services Director Brian Dempsey have left the agency.

Anna Pilato, director of the department’s divisions for strategic development and community and faith-based initiatives, is due to leave later this month.

“As is normal with a new term, we have re-evaluated our organizational structure and identified places where we can be more efficient,” Theresa Freed, communications director at DCF, wrote in an email to KHI News Service.

“Some individuals have been let go, decided to move on or accept different positions within the agency,” Freed said. “Although we cannot discuss specific personnel matters, we can say that the changes are unrelated to any one issue.”

Dempsey and Decker oversaw the administration of the state’s foster care program, which in recent months has taken in record and near-record numbers of children.

According to DCF reports, 6,156 foster children were in “out-of-home placements” in April, which, at the time, was an all-time high. Since then, the monthly counts have topped that number in May, June, July and October.

In October, 6,215 foster children were in out-of-home placements.
DCF officials have attributed the increases to corresponding greater public awareness. Child advocates have cited how the increases coincided with cuts in the state’s public assistance programs.

Freed said Dempsey’s position has been filled by Michael Myers, director at the department’s regional office in Overland Park since 2012.
Jaime Rogers, she said, has been named deputy secretary of family services, replacing Decker, a former Republican legislator from Clay Center. Rogers had been director of economic and employment services at DCF.

Freed said Pilato’s position “will be left vacant.”

According to state records, Pilato’s annual salary last year was $97,500. Decker’s salary was $90,000 and Dempsey’s was $66,600.

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Kansas City, Kan., police reports

Nov. 6
Theft, 10900 block of Stadium Parkway, shoplifting, six items of clothing, $120.96 value.
Theft, 00 block of North 7th, Chrysler 300, $14,000 value.
Burglary, criminal damage, 00 block of South 16th, door damaged, currency, $600 value.
Burglary, criminal damage, 2600 block of North 7th, door and wall, drill, saws, $1,110 value.
Burglary, criminal damage, 4300 block of Welborn Lane, air-conditioning unit, stove, washer, $2,300 value.
Burglary, criminal damage, 3100 block of Suntree Plaza, firearm, holster, Ford Thunderbird damaged, $550 value.
Burglary to auto, 2900 block of South 52nd, car stereo, hand tools, softball equipment, $900 value.
Attempted theft, vehicle, criminal damage, 2900 block of North 46th, ignition, wiper blade, $500 value.
Theft, 6300 block of Oak Grove Road, vehicle, $5,000 value.
Theft, vehicle, 2200 block of North 64th Terrace, Dodge Durango, $5,000 value.
Theft, 2200 block of North 70th Terrace, Ford F-250 stolen and recovered, $3,000 value.

Nov. 4
Theft, criminal damage, 3600 block of Kansas Avenue, UPS, six used tractor trailer tires, fence, $1,075 value.

Oct. 31
Burglary, criminal damage, 2900 block of North 65th Terrace, door and frame, plumbing, copper, $2,900 value.