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Insurance commissioner/fire marshal outlines his goals
Monday, 02 December 2019 21:57
By JOHN NORTH
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Mike Causey, who is North Carolina’s insurance commissioner as well as its state fire marshal, spoke of his goals as commissioner during an address to the Council of Independent Business Owners during a Nov. 6 luncheon meeting at Elliada Home in the Leicester community.

Causey, who took office in January 2017,  was introduced by a fired-up Josh Holmes, who is a CIBO board member. Holmes also acted as emcee of the meeting, noting that CIBO President Buzzy Cannady, who regularly emcees the meetings, is “out today, so I am filling in — at no extra charge.” His playful banter prompted some laughter and smiles among the 60 or so meeting attendees.

As per CIBO tradition, Holmes recognized elected and appointed governmental officials and their representatives — and one political candidate in attendance, A.J. Fone, who is running for Buncombe County sheriff. Also making an appearance was Jerry Leatherwood, Buncombe’s fire marshal. 

At that point, Holmes introduced Causey, noting that he is a native of Guilford County, “where he still lives with his wife Hisae on the farm where they grew up.

“He studied at Wake Tech, UNC-Charlotte and High Point University, where he graduated with degrees in civil and environmental engineering and continued his MBA studies at High Point University.”

Holmes added, “Causey is a businessman with more than 25 years in the insurance industry — as an agent, manager, supervisor and agency owner.

“He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served as a military policeman and played trombone in the Army band.

“Causey’s goal as (insurance) commissioner is to fight for more competition in the industry and to combst insurance fraud to drive rates lower for the North Carolina consumer. He is also passionate about making the office more consumer-friendly to help residents attain their insurance needs.”

Causey, who spoke for 22 minutes, began on a light note, pointing out that, after being introduced to some people, they tended to ask, “What kind of insurance do y’all sell?”

More seriously, Causey added, “Most people don’t have any idea how much insurance impacts a small business. I think two things that can kill a business are insurance and taxes.

“I was sworn-in about a minute after midnight in a fire department — and I did that to make a statement to show my support for the volunteer fire departments of North Carolina. 

“Wherever you live, we depend on the volunteer fire departments. And the volunteer fire departments are struggling to attract and retain volunteers. And we’re doing everything at my office to help them in their recruiting efforts.”

For instance, Causey said, “We help them get out into the schools to talk about it (volunteering with a fire department). You can’t wait until they’re 16 years old” to present that volunteer possibility.

“This isn’t just a problem with volunteer fire departments — every civic organization is losing members... The only one holding its own is the Rotary Clubs, but even they are not growing.”

He added, “We’re the chief building inspectors for the state… And that’s a big deal.

“We’re here to help. Our job is to help people. I work for you — that’s how we look at it.”

When he decided to seek the office of state insurance commissioner/state fire marshal, Causey said he did not know if he had a chance to succceed in his quest, but “I ended up winning this thing, so,” he said, pausing before adding, wryly “be careful what you ask for.”

He then asked, rhetorically, “How many of you know we regulate mobile homes and modular homes?” Causey added, “That’s a big deal.”

Further, he said, “Any transaction with the state has to come through us.”

With a smile, Causey noted that he is sometimes asked by outsiders, “‘Well, how are those Council of State meetings? Are they contentious?’”

He said his response is, “No, they’re sorta like a lovefest. Because we all want” to make things work better.

Causey also asserted, “Gov. (Roy) Cooper’s always talking about how we need more affordable housing….”

To that end, he said that an official in the industry that is involved nationwide in the industry, told him recently “‘I just want you to know that North Carolina has the toughest inspections of any in the United States on mobile and modular homes.”

Further, he asked, “How many of you know we regulate bail bondsmen… So if you get in jail, call us.” The CIBO audience laughted at his light-hearted promise.

“We have the distinction, with our law enforcement arm, as being the oldest agency in the Department of Insurance,” Causey said.

 



 


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