New York State Insurance Department

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The New York State Insurance Department (NYSID) was the state agency responsible for supervising and regulating all insurance business in New York State.[1] It was regarded in the industry as one of the most state-of-the-art insurance regulatory agencies.

Effective October 3, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature consolidated the New York State Insurance Department and the New York State Banking Department and created the New York State Department of Financial Services.[1][2]


Until 1849, insurance companies doing business in New York State were chartered by special acts of the New York State Legislature.[1] In 1849, the Legislature passed a law requiring prospective insurance companies to file incorporation papers with the New York Secretary of State.[1] The law also vested regulatory power over insurance companies with the State Comptroller, who was authorized to require the companies to submit annual financial statements and to deny a company the right to operate if capital securities and investments did not remain secure.

In 1859, the New York State Legislature created the New York State Insurance Department, and assumed the functions of the Comptroller and Secretary of State relating to insurance.[1] The department began operations in 1860 and William F. Barnes was the first Superintendent of Insurance.[1] The Home Life Insurance Company based in Brooklyn, New York was the first life insurer to be authorized by the newly formed New York State Insurance Department in 1860. Superintendent Barnes supervised the filings of 155 fire insurance companies and 16 life insurance companies during his first year in office.[1]

By the 1870s, each state regulated insurance in some manner and most had an insurance department or agency.[1] However, because different state requirements led to confusion in the insurance industry, New York State Superintendent George W. Miller, in 1871, invited the heads of insurance departments or agencies from other states to meet in New York to strive for more uniform regulation.[1] Eighteen states met that year for the first session of what is now the National Association of Insurance Commissioners ("NAIC").[1]

Mismanagement in the life insurance business, including exorbitant salaries and questionable investments, resulted in a 1905 investigation led by Charles Evans Hughes.[1] The investigation, known as the "Armstrong Investigation", led to the passage of a law that set forth a series of reforms, including mandatory periodic examinations of all life insurers.[1]

During the Great Depression, the Insurance Department promoted new rules clarifying insurer investment requirements, setting more equitable determination of cash surrender values and forfeitures, and recognizing up-to-date values and improvements in mortality tables.[1] They also carried out liquidations, such as the 1934 liquidation of the Consolidated Indemnity and Insurance Company.[3]

After World War II, the Insurance Department pioneered many consumer protections, including comprehensive mandated health insurance benefits, open enrollment, and prohibitions against insurers arbitrarily dropping an individual's health insurance coverage.[1]

The New York State Insurance Department was the first insurance department or agency in the United States to establish a capital markets group to examine and measure the risks in insurer investment practices, and was the first state to recognize the importance of segregating multiple lines insurance from financial guaranty insurance as a means of preventing systemic risk.[1]

In 2001, New York was the first state to establish an Insurance Emergency Operations Center ("IEOC"), which was designed to accelerate disaster assessments and expedite claims payments to disaster victims.[1] The IEOC helped New Yorkers recover from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

During the financial crisis of 2008, the Insurance Department helped stabilize financial guaranty insurers and worked with federal regulators to ensure that AIG did not collapse when it experienced a liquidity crisis.[1]

In 2011, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature consolidated the New York State Insurance Department and the New York State Banking Department and created the New York State Department of Financial Services.[1][2] James J. Wrynn was the fortieth and last Superintendent of Insurance.[4] Following the creation of the New York Department of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky (2011–2015) and Maria Vullo (2016--) were each appointed and confirmed as Superintendent of Financial Services thereby assuming the powers and duties formerly held by the Superintendent of Insurance.

List of Superintendents[edit]

[verification needed]

Superintendent Took office Left office Party Notes
William Barnes Sr. January 12, 1860 February 5, 1870 Republican two terms
George W. Miller February 4, 1870 May 12, 1872
George B. Church May 13, 1872 November 28, 1872
Orlow W. Chapman November 29, 1872 January 31, 1876
William Smyth February 1, 1876 February 20, 1877
John F. Smyth February 21, 1877 April 26, 1880
Charles G. Fairman April 27, 1880 April 22, 1883
John A. McCall April 23, 1883 December 31, 1885
Robert A. Maxwell January 1, 1886 February 11, 1891 Democrat
James F. Pierce February 12, 1891 February 10, 1897 Democrat two terms
Louis F. Payn February 11, 1897 February 1, 1900 Republican one term
Francis Hendricks February 2, 1900 May 16, 1906 Republican two terms
Otto Kelsey May 17, 1906 January 13, 1909 Republican
Henry D. Appleton January 14, 1909 February 17, 1909
William H. Hotchkiss February 18, 1909 February 18, 1912
William T. Emmet February 21, 1912 April 1, 1914
Frank Hasbrouck April 2, 1914 June 30, 1915
Jesse S. Phillips July 1, 1915 October 31, 1921
Henry D. Appleton November 1, 1921 November 30, 1921
Francis R. Stoddard Jr. December 1, 1921 June 30, 1924
James A. Beha July 1, 1924 December 31, 1928
Albert Conway January 1, 1929 July 30, 1930
Thomas F. Behan July 1, 1930 February 16, 1931
Henry A. Thellusson February 17, 1931 March 4, 1931
George S. Van Schaick March 5, 1931 March 10, 1935
Louis H. Pink May 10, 1935 January 31, 1943
Robert E. Dineen September 23, 1943 June 30, 1950
Alfred J. Bohlinger July 1, 1950 January 31, 1955
Leffert Holz February 3, 1955 March 15, 1958
Julius S. Wikler March 17, 1958 January 26, 1959
Thomas Thacher January 27, 1959 October 2, 1963
Samuel C. Cantor October 3, 1963 January 27, 1964
Henry Root Stern January 28, 1964 December 31, 1966
Richard E. Stewart January 1, 1967 December 31, 1970
Benjamin R. Schenck January 1, 1971 March 10, 1975
Lawrence W. Keepnews March 18, 1975 April 21, 1975
John P. Gemma May 8, 1975 June 23, 1975
Thomas A. Harnett June 24, 1975 July 20, 1977
John F. Lennon July 21, 1977 January 4, 1978
Albert B. Lewis January 5, 1978 March 7, 1983
James P. Corcoran March 9, 1983 January 26, 1990
Wendy Cooper January 27, 1990 July 1, 1990
Salvatore R. Curiale July 1, 1990 December 31, 1994
Edward J. Muhl February 14, 1995 December 29, 1996 Republican
Neil D. Levin April 1, 1997 April 5, 2001 Republican
Gregory V. Serio May 9, 2001 January 17, 2005 Republican
Howard Mills III May 18, 2005 December 31, 2006 Republican
Louis W. Pietroluongo January 1, 2007 January 28, 2007
Eric R. Dinallo January 29, 2007 July 3, 2009 Democrat
Kermitt J. Brooks July 4, 2009 August 18, 2009 Democrat
James J. Wrynn 2009 2011 Democrat


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r [History, About Us, New York State Department of Financial Services, retrieved on March 5, 2012, at New York State Department of Financial Services website]
  2. ^ a b Part A of Chapter 62 of the Laws of 2011
  3. ^ "Liquidation Is Ordered", The New York Times, May 30, 1934, pg. 31.
  4. ^ James J. Wrynn, Deputy Superintendent of Financial Services, Leadership, About Us, New York State Department of Financial Services, retrieved on March 5, 2012, at