Ralph Hudgens, who wants to be Georgia's next
insurance commissioner, is a person who throws a temper tantrum when provided
with evidence of his ignorance. Because it seems that he prefers ignorance to information, a
mandate that he advocates could be dangerous to consumers.
Hudgens seems to know nothing
more about insurance than the average person. He certainly knows little about
viatical and life settlements. Many
legislators know little about this industry
that buys life insurance policies from people who are terminally ill or
elderly, and resells the viaticated policies as investments. That is one
reason the National Conference of
Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) asked for comments
from the public.
I am internationally acknowledged as
a leading expert on all issues related to this industry, which I have been studying
for seventeen years, and publishing books about it for the past fourteen years.
That is why I submitted a detailed, factual comment, then paid to participate
in NCOIL's conference call. When I introduced myself to the life insurance
committee, I summarized this history, including that I assist attorneys who
represent victims of the industry; that several government agencies have asked
my advice about proposed statutes; and that a number of government
agencies--including the House of Representatives Financial Services
subcommittee--invited me as a guest speaker.
The 15 page report that I submitted
to NCOIL cited a number of court cases
brought by people who sold their life insurance and later realized they were
victimized by life settlement companies. The statement also cited two reports
by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) and a speech by the director of the
Consumer Federation of America to the House of Representatives. All these
citations pointed to the failure of state insurance departments to regulate the
industries under their jurisdiction.
The conference call was to discuss, in preparation for a vote, a proposal pending before this committee to require life insurance companies to notify all life insurance policy holders about the option to sell their policy to a life settlement company, if the insured was age sixty or older, or chronically or terminally ill.
When I heard Rep. Hudgens, chair of this committee, declare that this was a legitimate industry, I addressed the committee to tell them it was not legitimate. Hudgens said it was legitimate in Georgia because Georgia had a statute. I said a statute is meaningless unless it is enforced, and Georgia--like any other states--does not enforce its statute. Too many "rogues"-- a word used by the GAO--fled Florida and were welcomed by Georgia. Florida, I said, was a good example, and a rare example, of a state that vigorously protected the public by enforcing its insurance statutes.
I believe that if this disclosure were mandated by law, it would be used by unlicensed as well as licensed companies to victimize far more insureds who are desperately ill and financially desperate. All they had to say was, "Insurance statutes require me to tell you . . .."
Ralph Hudgens began to scream at me: "You insulted me! You insulted the state of Georgia!" And he demanded that I be disconnected from the conference call.
After the September 13 conference call and again, after the September 20 conference call (in which I did not participate) Hudgens sent out media releases claiming that I was ranting and raving that this was not a legitimate industry, and claiming I "highjacked" the conference.
When Hudgens ran short of breath from screaming at me,
he ordered that I be disconnected. And with one click, I was silenced.
Which begs the question: How is it possible for someone on the telephone to highjack a conference?
And it begs the question: Where is the transparency NCOIL claims to desire?
And it begs the question: Does Hudgens have no regard for the Constitutional rights of citizens? Or is it only Freedom of Speech which he deplores?
I cited research, and he screamed and yelled, then defamed me in his two media releases.
Hudgen's reaction implies he does not like his ignorance brought to the forefront. Or he does not like a woman who knows more than he does. Or the two ethics complaints filed against him by Georgia citizens are "tip of the iceberg."
I am not a betting person but I'll bet he never reads the report intended to educate the members of the committee. It would not surprise me to learn that he ordered employees at NCOIL to withhold the report from other committee members.
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