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September 03, 2015

Part 2: 10 Questions with NIPR's Executive Director, Karen Stakem Hornig

By: Karen Stakem Hornig

In Tuesday's blog, NIPR's Karen Stakem Hornig discussed NIPR's role in serving the industry and regulators as well as their engagement with ABPs to drive efficiency. Today, we dive a little deeper in discussing the NIPR's future plans as well as the challenges of NARAB II.

5. Vertafore has been a long standing ABP with the NIPR, however many regulators, carriers, and agencies may not be aware of the role ABPs play and the value added solutions we offer. Please describe the role of ABPs and how NIPR and ABPs collaborate to improve efficiency?

NIPR's Authorized Business Partners (ABPs) offer a comprehensive suite of products and services to support the insurance industry. Our ABPs integrate NIPR's Producer Database reports as well as electronic appointments, terminations and licensing services into their product portfolio. Beyond NIPR, most utilize other technologies to help with the producer lifecycle including pre-licensing, background checks, continuing education, company form automation, etc. The ABPs process high numbers of transactions with NIPR each year. We are continually working with our ABPs to improve our current processes and make the producer licensing process more efficient and cost effective.

6. Please describe your top 3 priorities for the next few years.

In March of 2015, NIPR adopted our strategic plan for 2015-2017, NIPR 2.0: A Focus on Quality, Simplicity, & Consistency. This plan includes four strategic priorities focused on strengthening NIPR's technology, improving our customer experience; increasing our organizational agility; and strengthening our relationships with our stakeholders.

While choosing only three priorities is difficult, I would say they are: focusing on cybersecurity; improving the usability and reliability of NIPR's products and services; and delivering a first rate customer service experience.

7. Obviously NIPR must respond to regulatory change, both at the State level and now with NARAB at the federal level. What challenges does the sometimes reactive nature of this business present to your organization in terms of ability to plan and execute initiatives?

The need for organizational agility and the ability to respond to an ever-changing regulatory environment is one of the pillars of NIPR's strategic plan. We are working to ensure that we are organized in a way that allows us to pivot and dedicate resources to an unexpected initiative without sacrificing ongoing projects.

8. On the topic of NARAB, what do you think it means to the industry, regulators, and your organization?

The National Association of Registered Brokers and Agents (NARAB) has the potential to create a far more streamlined and uniform national system for nonresident producer licensing. NIPR has the data and the technical know-how and we intend to offer to provide the services necessary to make the vision of licensing outlined in NARAB a reality. If there is strong interest from industry, NARAB could fundamentally change producer licensing.

9. What advice would you give ABPs like Vertafore in terms of how to work with the NIPR most effectively?

NIPR's working relationship with Vertafore and other ABPs is most effective when there is a close working relationship between the two organizations. There are daily challenges when working with technology, but when team members are committed to the best experience for the customer then those issues can be resolved effectively. The best advice I can give to any ABP is to be committed to open and direct communication. If there is a problem that we don't know about, we can't fix it. Likewise, if you have not received the service that you believe you deserve from NIPR, that's when you contact me.

10. As mentioned above, Vertafore's relationship with the NIPR is unique. How would you describe our relationship and its benefits and challenges versus direct NIPR industry customers, other ABPs, and regulators Vertafore does not directly work with?

Vertafore is NIPR's largest ABP and has been for many years. Also, Vertafore is the only ABP that provides technical services to State regulators in addition to members of industry. As a result, NIPR has to work closely with Vertafore on all State implementations and rule modifications because these changes impact all States.

Vertafore and the NIPR have been leading strong initiatives towards uniformity and improving licensing and appointment processes. Thank you to Karen Stakem Hornig for sharing her vision, priorities, and thoughts. Vertafore will continue to collaborate closely with the NIPR on important initiatives to improve licensing and appointment processes.

Karen Stakem Hornig

Karen served as the State of Maryland's Deputy Insurance Commissioner where she gained initial knowledge of the producer licensing system. Prior to joining the Maryland Insurance Administration in 2008, she served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Baltimore Police Department. In addition to legal work in both the private and public sectors, she spent eight years in higher education as a senior administrator. As Executive Director of NIPR, she is responsible for day-to-day operations and for strategic, long range planning.