News

Chief actuary Laura Cali to become new commissioner

(Salem) – After nearly two years as Oregon insurance commissioner, Lou Savage is l​eaving the division to work on legal reform in emerging democracies overseas. Laura Cali, the division’s chief actuary and manager of product regulation, who is currently leading the technical review of health insurance rates, will replace him.

Savage was initially appointed as a temporary replacement to head the Insurance Division, then agreed to serve in the permanent position a year ago. He provided “steady, experienced guidance” as the division became a national leader in health insurance regulation, said Patrick Allen, director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services.

Both Savage and his wife, Cheryl Seagren, recently received opportunities overseas.

“While Lou’s news is great for him and his wife, his departure is a huge loss for the agency and for the Insurance Division,” Allen said. “Lou has successfully led the division through a time of great change.”

Cali will replace him effective July 15.

“Laura Cali is exceptionally qualified to be insurance commissioner,” Allen said. “Laura has been at the forefront of path-breaking regulatory work and is doing an outstanding job with rate review amidst the biggest changes to health insurance in nearly half a century.”

“I’m excited to appoint someone with her track record to a position that is vital to protect consumer interests and to preserve a competitive health insurance industry in Oregon,” Allen said.

The division hired Cali in mid-2011 as a casualty actuary specializing in workers’ compensation and medical malpractice. Then a consulting actuary for Towers Watson in San Francisco, she started her career at Liberty Mutual’s home office in Boston, building rating models for workers’ compensation and general liability lines of business.

“I am truly excited to take on this new role and to lead a division that continuously demonstrates its strong commitment to protecting Oregonians and educating the public about the complexities of insurance,” Cali said.

While much is changing in health insurance, Savage and Cali are working together to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership and a consistent approach to insurance regulation, including rate review, Allen said.

Insurance companies recently filed proposed rates for small employer and individual health plans that take effect in 2014, include new benefits, and will be available to everyone regardless of health. The division will make rate decisions by the first week of July, a project Savage wanted to complete before leaving.

Savage will begin working on law projects in September. Seagren will be a counselor at the American Cooperative School of Tunis. A former Legal Aid attorney, Savage will work with the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative in that area. He said it’s a chance of a lifetime.

“Law reform has always been a focus for me – that’s why I became a lawyer,” Savage said.

The Insurance Division has an annual budget of approximately $11 million and a staff of nearly 100. It makes sure that insurance companies are financially sound so they can pay policyholders’ claims, that the industry treats consumers fairly and that prices are reasonable in markets where the division must approve rates. Insurance consumer advocates are available to answer insurance questions or help with complaints against companies or agents: 888-877-4894.

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The Insurance Division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency.​ ​

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