Oklahoma insurance commissioner names advisory panel after criticism

The new advisory board will help the Oklahoma Insurance Department develop strategy with the help of law enforcement, state lawmakers and other experts on everything from training to expenditures and case development.
BY BRIANNA BAILEY bbailey@opubco.com Published: January 26, 2013
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Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak has assembled an advisory board to oversee his department's Anti-Fraud Unit in the wake of criticisms about spending on the investigative unit.

The new advisory board will help the Insurance Department develop strategy with the help of law enforcement, state lawmakers and other experts on everything from training to expenditures and case development, Doak said.

The Insurance Department has tried to listen to criticisms of spending on everything from uniforms to law-enforcement style equipment for the Anti-Fraud Unit, Doak said.

“I think that any time you are in the private sector or in government, you have to listen to the dialogue and be receptive to that,” Doak said.

Deputy Insurance Commissioner Owen Laughlin said Doak has expanded the agency's effort to crack down on fraud because the costs can be passed on to consumers as higher insurance premiums.

“A lot of this work has not been done before and it takes a little bit of thrust to do that. We have to hire the right people and get the right equipment to do that.”

The board will meet twice a year with the agency's Anti-Fraud Director Michael Copeland and Laughlin to discuss investigations that resulted in criminal charges and collaborate on statewide anti-fraud efforts.

Sen. Harry Coates R-Seminole, who has been a critic of Doak, said the advisory board did little to address his concerns about the Anti-Fraud Unit.

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