Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:17PM - 162 Views

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FRANKFORT – The insurance market in Kentucky is healthy and growing, Department of Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Banking and Insurance Tuesday, during a report on current insurance issues in the state.

According to the report, nearly 1,500 insurance companies are certified to do business in the state, including 34 new companies that began operating in Kentucky in the last two years.

While Kentucky pays a lower total premium than many other states, private insurance is still a $16.3 billion dollar industry in the Commonwealth, Clark said.

Regarding worker’s compensation, Clark told lawmakers that rates have decreased for seven consecutive years, by more than 40 percent overall. She attributes the decrease to a variety of factors including awareness, loss prevention, claims management and education.

Committee co-chair Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, said improvements in loss prevention were notable. “I think everybody is doing a better job in loss prevention. … It is obvious that it is working,” he said.

Lawmakers were also briefed about some of the department’s work this year, including the largest disaster response effort in the history of the Department of Insurance following storms in early March.

Damage occurred in all 120 Kentucky counties and cost a total of $1.2 billion, Clark said. Agency employees traveled across the state to determine whether or not insurance companies responded appropriately to the catastrophe.

“I was very happy to notice we did not have an escalation in complaints (after the storm),” Clark said. “(Insurers) did what they needed to do.”

While consumer protection complaints have remained steady, the Department of Insurance is experiencing an increase in insurance fraud investigations, Clark said.

Recent fraud cases have included unscrupulous roofing contractors, staged automobile accidents and prescription drug fraud, she said.

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