Oklahoma lawmakers, tribes discuss insurance

Tribes are interested in starting insurance businesses in Oklahoma, but recognizing sovereign immunity is a major hurdle for the state, House committee is told.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: October 17, 2012

Doak said the banking model is a good example of how tribes can get involved in an industry by being willing to concede limited waivers of immunity to ensure protection for consumers.

Jay Calhoun, director of strategic investments at Cherokee Nation Businesses, said there is interest in exploring opportunities in the insurance industry.

“Cherokee Nation Businesses is interested in exploring all opportunities that create quality jobs for our people,” Calhoun said. “We look forward to learning more about the industry and how we might work together to create greater economic opportunity.”

Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Dan Kirby, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, said his legislative study was intended to give tribal leaders the opportunity to use the Insurance Department as a resource in offering additional coverage opportunities.

Kirby, R-Tulsa, said some tribes have tried unsuccessfully to start insurance businesses in the state. He said he hopes Tuesday's discussion on sovereignty and state-based regulations will lead to “a fruitful partnership between the Insurance Department and Oklahoma tribes.”