Let me introduce Ken Allen, Deputy Commissioner of the Rate Regulation Branch of the California Department of Insurance (“CDI”).
Ken has been with CDI for over 31.5 years with all of his time being in the Rate Regulation Branch. He started at CDI right after graduating from California State University, Fullerton with a degree in mathematics. This was 1989 which was just after the state passed Proposition 103 which, among other changes, included the requirement of prior approval of property and casualty rates, including personal auto and homeowner insurance. Thus, this new division of Rate Regulation Branch was created at the CDI and began Ken’s professional career.
As a new branch with new employees just entering a career in insurance, CDI brought in senior insurance examiners to help train and educate the new team on insurance and its myriad of rules and requirements. It was a collective effort to get this new group up and running. He had many mentors and benefitted from working with various experts. These experts provided Ken with different experiences and insights.
Currently, the Rate Regulation Branch has 97 positions, which consists of management, actuaries, support staff, and a group of analysts that are dedicated to special projects as well as work specific to Prop 103 related reports and ratemaking support. A little less than two-thirds of the 97 positions are for rate analysts that review the rate filings. The Rate Regulation Branch reviewed approximately 6,800 filings in 2020.
In Ken’s professional growth, he learned through a series of interactions from each person and honed his managerial skills. One such person was Woody Girion, a prior Deputy Commissioner. He learned from Woody to never come to him with only the problem. Woody expected him to research possible solutions and to come with his thoughts on a proposed best solution for them to discuss.
Another person Ken learned from was Joel Laucher, Deputy Commissioner (Joel succeeded Woody as Deputy Commissioner of the Rate Regulation Branch). Ken learned that insurance presentations did not have to be dry and boring. If you ever attended a Western Chapter E-Day where Joel was a speaker, you learned quickly that regulators can and do have personalities! Ken learned to incorporate humor and surprises into his presentations.
What Ken also learned from his many great mentors is to be courteous, professional and keep colleagues and others informed and updated with progress. He holds himself to his words and actions and is respectful and responsible. He also holds others to these. He works with open lines of communication. If a mistake is made, simply own up to it and grow and learn from it.
Besides a degree in mathematics, Ken holds his CPCU designation and AIE (Accredited Insurance Examiner) through IRES.
Through his personal travels and to industry meetings, such as NAIC and IRES, he makes the time to take side trips. He has been to 41 different major league stadiums (some old ones, like the old Detroit Tigers stadium) and the newer ones. He is a “ballpark chaser” as he has been to a home game of each major league team and some minor league teams. One of the joys of going to these baseball stadiums is striking up conversations with the local residents. You can learn so much from just speaking to your stadium seatmates.
Ken is also a hockey fan. He is an inaugural co- season ticket holder of the Anaheim Ducks and has been since their 1993 start, so you will often find Ken at the Honda Center for a home game.
Ken has presented at the Western Chapter and Northwest Chapter E-days. He was under the impression the AICP would be a stuffy, professional group. He met Carol Heard from the Western Chapter and he learned that the members were serious in learning but were also enjoying themselves. AICP is not what he initially thought it would be. He appreciates the relationships built from attending these AICP events and he knows that these relationships help with conversations between the industry and regulators. The result of the conversation may not be to the liking of industry representatives but we may gain a better understanding of the Department’s positions (and vice versa). These relationships help soften the blow when there may be a contentious issue.
Besides working and enjoying sports, Ken is married and he and his wife have a daughter who is a senior in high school. No discussions now-a-days can be had without discussing how COVID-19 has impacted one’s life. His daughter is attending her senior year virtually. He says it has been a tough year as she has not been able to participate in typical high school activities. She is getting those college applications submitted and will be off to college next year.
Ken is also working remotely now. He used to commute two hours (one-way) on the commuter train with a mile walk from the station to the office. In his walk he would pass the Los Angeles City Hall building. On one side of the building there is a plaque with the inscription from the Roman scholar, Cicero, which reads, “He that violates his oath profanes the divinity of faith itself.” Seeing that every day reaffirmed Ken’s pledge and oath to be a good civil servant and to do everything he can to uphold his oath to the citizens of California. That is Ken’s guiding principle which is consistent with his professional code of honor by being respectful and courteous to those he meets and with whom he works.
Thank you, Ken, for sharing yourself with the members of the AICP. We look forward to having you at an upcoming chapter event and possibly at our national meeting in San Diego, CA in 2021.
Interview conducted by Karen Crooks. Thank you, Karen!