J.P. Schmidt, who has regulated Hawaii insurers since 2003, is leaving his post as state insurance commissioner at the end of the month.
Schmidt, 55, is the state’s longest-serving insurance commissioner. He will join the law firm of Bays Deaver Lung Rose and Holma on July 1, focusing on health and captive insurance cases.
"It has occurred in the past where an insurance commissioner continued across a couple different administrations, but usually a new governor wants to pick his own person for this position because it does affect a lot of people," he said. "I think we achieved a lot of good things for the people of the state of Hawaii."
The department may appoint an interim commissioner or promote a deputy to fill the position, he said.
Under Schmidt’s leadership, the division said it improved efficiency while increasing consumer protection.
For instance, there was previously a backlog of 150 companies waiting for a license to do business in Hawaii. The process typically took six months to a year. As a result of improved procedures, the backlog was wiped out, and the time it took to get approval was reduced to between 60 and 90 days.
The Insurance Division also helped to find a buyer for Hawaiian Insurance & Guaranty Co. Ltd. in 2006 – the day nearly 30,000 local policies were to be canceled by the court in liquidation after its parent company, Vesta Insurance Group Inc., went insolvent.
Schmidt also helped increase competition in the health insurance market by helping to bring in Summerlin Life & Health Insurance Co. to the islands in 2004. Summerlin has since merged with HMAA.
In addition, Dongbu Insurance Co. Ltd., one of South Korea’s largest property and casualty insurers, entered the Hawaii market under the Port of Entry Law in 2006.
Schmidt has worked as corporation counsel of Maui County and was a partner in the Wailuku law firm of Crockett Nakamura and Schmidt.