As we close out 2019 and look ahead to 2020, it’s amazing the work we’ve accomplished in the last year under the leadership of Gov. Mike DeWine. The governor and his team have laid out a vision for each state agency to continue enhancing efforts when it comes to consumer services and customer experiences.

That is why the 2020-21 state budget includes resources for the Ohio Department of Insurance to provide more and better educational tools related to mental health and substance use benefits. We have improved our consumer toolkit, created new stakeholder materials, and will roll out additional initiatives in 2020.

The department also ramped up efforts around emerging products in 2019. Investing resources in this space will ensure our regulatory framework is flexible enough to allow insurers to innovate and provide the best service possible to their customers, in addition to providing the highest-level consumer protections for Ohioans. Emerging products will continue to be a focus of the department in 2020 and you can learn more about our work by visiting the Emerging Products Toolkit.

As 2019 came to an end, so did my time serving in a number of leadership positions at a national level. For the past two years, I had the honor to serve as chairman of the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission (IIPRC).

The IIPRC enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the way insurance products are filed, reviewed, and approved allowing consumers to have faster access to competitive insurance products in an ever-changing global marketplace. During my time as chair, we worked to develop long-term strategic goals for the IIPRC while improving the overall performance of the organization.

I also had the opportunity to serve as chairman of the Annuity Suitability Working Group at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) during 2019. This may have been one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences I have had as director. The issue is one of great importance when it comes to consumer protection.

But any changes to industry standards must be carefully balanced to ensure the consumer is protected while at the same time not preventing those same consumers from buying products they need and want. I am proud of the working group’s tireless efforts to strike that balance and develop strong standards.

2020 will be a year of continued change at the department, but our core mission remains the same. We will always provide consumer protection through education and fair but vigilant regulation while promoting a stable and competitive environment for insurers.

(Jillian Froment is director of the Ohio Department of Insurance.)

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