September 8, 1993 was like any other early September day, with one exception. That’s when I started my 24+ year run as the Coalition’s director of government affairs. This September was my last anniversary. I’ll retire from the Coalition at the end of the year.
It has been a grand ride to help strengthen America’s state laws and regulations, and increase knowledge of insurance fraud in statehouses around the nation.
I needed to introduce myself and the Coalition when I spoke to legislators or regulators early on. That changed as the years passed and our influence grew. At some point I no longer had to explain the Coalition or what we do. Folks knew the Coalition was one of the nation’s leading anti-fraud organizations, and that I represented this rapidly growing alliance of insurers, consumer groups and government agencies.
Together, I worked with other fraud fighters to enact stricter state fraud laws, and raise people’s knowledge of insurance fraud and why no one should tolerate it.
I’m proud that we achieved many of our initial goals. Only a few states had laws defining insurance fraud as a crime when the Coalition was founded. Now only Virginia and Oregon still need these laws.
Even so, Virginia created a special unit in the state police to investigate insurance crimes. And that unit is successful. We even worked this year to help the state police fund insurance-fraud prosecutors in several hotspot areas of the state. I’ve also served on the state police’s fraud advisory board for several years.
The Coalition barely was open when I joined the staff. Our initial board meetings were held in small conference rooms. Today we have nearly 160 members. Our biannual member meetings need a large hotel ballroom.
We also have a robust website, and multiple model laws with a major insurance fraud model that formed the basis of more than 20 state fraud laws. Social media in the 1990s meant sending out news releases by mail, holding news conferences and phoning reporters. Now we have an active Twitter feed, Facebook page and an app for mobile devices.
Organizations must change to survive, and the Coalition is no different. Our initial goals of enacting insurance-fraud laws and expanding public knowledge of fraud have been met to no small degree. We’re also seeing enforcement and insurers expand their roles in combating this crime. More universally, we’re seeing a large expansion of organizations working to change the minds of consumers casually who view fraud as just another victimless prank.
I never had children, but the Coalition is my child to a large degree. I’ve watched and helped it grow from infancy into an influential national force. As I transit to the next phase of my life, I’ll still follow the Coalition as we continue building our reputation and impact on the fraud fight.
When I leave the office for the last time I’ll walk out the front door with a smile, knowing I helped the Coalition make a difference in fighting insurance fraud.
We still have several months together. So rather than signing off, I’ll say let’s make this stretch run one of our best ever in combating insurance fraud.
Howard Goldblatt has served as director of government affairs for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud for the last 24 years.