Vermont again tops for insurance regulation environment; Delaware ranks last, report finds

For the fourth straight year and the fifth time in six years, Vermont was judged to have the best insurance regulatory environment in the United States, according to the R Street Institute’s 2017 Insurance Regulation Report Card, released on Jan. 16.

Driven largely by changes made in its regulatory environment through the H.B. 80 legislative package, Delaware for the first time had the worst score in the country, just narrowly edging out North Carolina, which had placed last the previous two years.

Study author R.J. Lehmann — R Street’s director of finance, insurance and trade policy — noted among the positive trends the study has tracked is the continued contraction of the nation’s residual property insurance plans, which fell from 3.32% of the market in 2011 to 1.72% in 2016. Most notably, Florida’s state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has seen its market share drop from 14.28% of the market to just 4.28% of the market over that span.

“The steps Florida lawmakers and regulators took to shrink Citizens allowed it to absorb an estimated 62,000 claims and $1.2 billion in insured losses from the strike of Hurricane Irma this past year without any notable impairment,” Lehmann said. “It is in recognition of these improvements that Florida, which was the bottom-ranked state in our first report card in 2012, has clawed its way to a very respectable ‘B’ grade for 2017.”

Vermont earned the only “A+” in this year’s report card. Other states receiving either an “A” or “A-” were Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Wisconsin. Delaware received an “F,” as did North Carolina, Louisiana and Massachusetts. The biggest improvements in this year’s report card were seen in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, while the biggest declines were seen in Delaware and New Hampshire.

“Last year saw a significant effort to liberalize rate controls for commercial insurance lines in Missouri and a successful effort to do so in Oregon,” Lehmann said. “On the other side of the ledger is Delaware, which imposed significant new restrictions on underwriting freedom. Illinois — long among the most free-market insurance environments in the nation — was spared from the introduction of stringent controls on its workers’ compensation market only by the Legislature’s failure to overturn Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto.”

The full report, including an explanation of the methodology behind the ratings, is available HERE.