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James J. Wrynn Named New York State Superintendent of Insurance

As Superintendent of the nationally influential New York State Department of Insurance, Wrynn will face challenges associated with consumer concerns and economic pressures on the industry, as well as the unresolved role the federal government will play in insurance regulation.

New York Governor David A. Paterson has appointed former trial attorney James J. Wrynn to serve as New York State Superintendent of Insurance.

On Friday, Aug. 14, Governor Paterson welcomed Wrynn to the position, which had been filled on a temporary basis in July by Kermitt Brooks, upon the resignation of Eric R. Dinallo, currently a visiting professor at New York University's Stern School of Business. "As an experienced insurance lawyer with expansive involvement in government, I am confident that [Wrynn] will serve both the Department and State well," Governor Paterson said. "I thank Acting Superintendent Kermitt Brooks for his leadership and am pleased that he will continue to work with the State in the Department of Insurance as First Deputy Superintendent, assisting Jim through the transition and in the months ahead."

Wrynn faces special challenges as New York's Superintendent, given that that state's Department of Insurance has traditionally been the most influential of state regulators, according to Howard Mills, former Superintendent of the New York State Insurance Department and now chief advisor with Deloitte's insurance industry group. Chief among concerns of insurance departments nationwide is the question of the role of the federal government in regulating the industry, including the nature and scope of authority of an Office of National Insurance (ONI) proposed by the Obama Administration. "Whatever they do on Capitol Hil I think Jim Wrenn will be in a pivotal role at a key time for the industry in terms of hashing out what the relationship will be between the states, the NAIC and the federal government," Mills comments.

Wrynn will also face greater challenges than usual as a state regulator, given the economic pressures affecting the insurance industry, according to Mills. "On the one hand, he must strictly and vigorously monitor the industry, but do so in a way that doesn't curb its growth," he remarks. "It's a delicate balancing act, but with his experience as an insurance litigator Jim has seen the industry from all sides, so I think he's well qualified to strike that balance."

To the extent that the authority of state regulators is challenged by federal regulatory involvement, Wrynn will be challenged to preserve the state-based system, while addressing its inherent inefficiencies, Mills argues. "What the state-based system doesn't do well is working across jurisdictions and getting products to market quickly," he explains. "What it does well is solvency and consumer protection, and I think he'll be called upon to defend that."

The nature of the New York State Department of Insurance's regulatory bureaucracy will also present challenges to Wrynn, according to Mills. "The Department is a difficult ship to turn around: there's a large permanent staff of very qualified people but they can sometimes be resistant to change. So if he decides he wants to move in a new direction, it can be difficult," Mills says. "I have no doubt he'll be able to do that, but it's something that requires a great deal of effort."

Wrynn is currently the executive director of the New York State Insurance Fund. He is a founding partner of MacKay, Wrynn & Brady LLP, where he has litigated cases focused on insurance issues and claims on behalf of major companies, their policyholders, municipalities, and public authorities. Prior to that, Mr. Wrynn worked from 1982 to 1992 as a trial attorney with McCormick, Dunne & Foley, specializing in civil trials and appellate practice related to professional malpractice, subrogation, property and casualty coverage disputes, liabilities and insurance.

Wrynn is admitted to the Federal and State Courts in both New York and New Jersey, and the United States Supreme Court. He has received an Associates in Risk Management and an Associates in Captive Insurance. He is a member of the New York and New Jersey State Bar association, has served on the New York City Economic Development Corporation and is an active participant in his community. Mr. Wrynn is a graduate of St. John's University College of Business Administration and received his juris doctorate from St. John's University School of Law.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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