The AAIS Pulse newsmagazine recently featured a discussion between Maryland Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Birrane and AAIS VP of Government, Legal and Compliance Robin Westcott. They covered a range of topics, from careers in insurance and climate change to National Association of Insurance Commissioner Working Groups, technology, insurtechs and much more.
Ms. Birrane inherited her interest in insurance from her father, Edward J. Birrane Jr., who once served as Maryland Insurance Commissioner. After law school, she slowly moved from insurance litigation toward more regulatory-focused work. She calls herself an “insurance regulatory nerd” and finds that “you’re never bored with all the different aspects of law that insurance touches.”
While Ms. Birrane points to her father as a catalyst at the start of her career, she believes it’s critical to have support throughout a career. This has been the precursor to her developing programs that foster talent development and inclusion at the younger levels in the state of Maryland. She points to a risk management track developed in partnership with the University of Baltimore as a harbinger for the future of insurance in her state. Ms. Birrane also touches on work being done with community colleges, high schools, and other local schools to guide young people toward insurance careers in Maryland. She believes the industry needs to continue to diversify the skills its looking to attract – not just in traditional insurance, but in data science, actuarial and computer science, where insurance needs to grow.
Ms. Birrane also spoke about work being done with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) looking into the impact of climate change on underwriting risk from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective. They are currently preparing recommendations that will help regulators and carriers align better on how they respond to climate change risk.
Ms. Birrane also reviews efforts of another NAIC working group focused on various technologies, including e-commerce, drones that assess storm damage, and apps that allow uploads of photos for auto claims. Their focused on evaluating barriers to the use of technology within the industry and removing them. She says it’s important to have uniformity and a well-established legal framework to ensure that there’s no bias when using new technologies.