In each of the Essential Protections for Policyholders, the report identifies and discusses an issue, recommends action that legislatures or sometimes insurance commissioners should take, usually offers recommended statutory language, and provides context in a summary of current law. Like other scholarship in the law and public policy realm, it requires a certain amount of self-confidence to offer a “best” solution to difficult and important issues.
A feature of the project that justifies that self-confidence is what lies behind the summaries of current law in the report. On each issue we conducted a broad survey of the law—often a 50-state survey—before formulating recommendations. (Being in a law school with interested students and colleagues made that kind of extensive work possible.) Those surveys informed the recommendations by offering alternative approaches and language and often suggesting considerations we would not have thought about otherwise. On many topics there are no comparable, publicly available surveys, although I expect they exist in the files of insurance companies and industry trade groups.
The database of current law has value going forward, too. Here’s an example: A state regulator was considering a new rule on an issue related to mandatory disclosures about the contents of insurance policies. In the discussions with industry representatives and consumer advocates, the question was posed what other states were doing. One industry representative professed ignorance and suggested that it would be a large undertaking to acquire the information. Another participant in the meeting called me, and the next week we were able to provide a seventeen-page memo summarizing other states’ law.
As we continue to expand and update the database, we are open to helping others in similar ways.