The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services had a budget of $33 million in 2015, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That seems like a lot of money at first glance, but how does it compare with budgets of other state insurance departments around the nation? A new analysis looks beyond the total dollar amount to provide a different perspective on resources available to state insurance departments.
These insurance departments are responsible for regulating the rates for auto, health, homeowners and life insurance. The departments also license agents and companies, resolve consumer questions and complaints, enforce insurance laws and investigate fraud allegations. The ability to do all of these things depends on money, staff and legislative support.
According to the data analysis by NerdWallet, Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services’ budget in 2015 was 0.06% of total state expenditures; the national average was 0.07%. The state spent $3.36 per capita to regulate insurance, less than the U.S. average of $4.20. The department kept 84% of its total revenue — the money brought in through fees, taxes and penalties paid by insurers and agents — compared with 5.98% nationally.
“DIFS is fiscally responsible in allocating the assessments to provide efficient and effective regulatory services,” department spokesperson Andrea Miller says. “We have been able to effectively operate under the same budget constraints since becoming a department in 2013.”
The new report also looked at how many staffers were dedicated to consumer services. These are the people who answer phones and resolve complaints against insurers. In Michigan, 17.75% of insurance department staff worked in consumer affairs, compared with the national average of 12.82%.