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  • Commerce & Regulation

    The Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) is a government entity located within the Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth in the state of Michigan. OFIR is the agency that is responsible for regulating the financial industries in the state through insurance, security, and consumer finance. This agency holds about 350 employees who are able to regulate the companies of Michigan by checking to see if the institutions are financially stable, follow the law, and give the consumer the protection they need.

    . OFIR provides a lot of resources for the consumer which range from fielding complaints, to answering questions about insurance companies and inquiries. Many people are not able to find answers with their own insurance companies sometimes, and so the OFIR provides guidance in the policies used by insurance companies and fields complaints about insurance policies. In addition, OFIR provides information about credit scoring, basic fiscal responsibility, and gives the consumer information on how to avoid investment scams, such as the rise of gold scams that are occurring. These “get rich quick schemes” in Michigan have been on the rise with the increasing popularity of gold companies encouraging the public to trade in their gold for money. The OFIR warns against trusting these investment schemes, especially ones involving gold and gives the consumer a way to protect themselves by giving information about trustworthy and untrustworthy companies that use these schemes.

    The OFIR not only provides services to the consumers, but companies in the industry as well. One of the big elements that OFIR controls is insurance regulations and how these rates are regulated throughout the state in a fair way for both the company and the consumer. A recent example of this was seen when Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan had a lawsuit filed against them because their domination of the insurance market was preventing competition. Despite the great size of this company, OFIR argued that there is still fair competition in the market and because of this, the OFIR stated that this lawsuit does not necessarily have reliable grounds. OFIR’s judgment has shown the duties responsibilities this agency holds in regards to companies. It also deals with licensing within the industry and ensures protection and competition by monitoring market conducts.

    Some of the businesses and institutions that the OFIR regulates include banks, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, credit unions, insurance companies, OmniCare, and securities. To find more information about the OFIR you can visit their website at http://www.michigan.gov/dleg/0,1607,7-154-10555---,00.html.

     

    Sources:

    http://www.freep.com/article/20101110/BUSINESS06/11100425/1019/business06/In-Michigan-Blues-accused-of-abuses-of-power

    http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2010/11/watch_out_for_gold_scams_michi.html

    http://www.michigan.gov/dleg/0,1607,7-154-10555---,00.html

     

     

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Marie Hallberg is the commerce & regulation correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network and a first-year student at Michigan State University. Currently, she is a no preference major, but is interested in either a teaching or communications degree. Marie is very excited to be attending MSU and anxious to explore the opportunities that are available to her. Marie is originally from Illinois and enjoys hanging out with her family and friends, reading, and being in band. Her career aspirations include a job focused on serving and working with people, possibly in the guest service area. She is very interested in using her experience on the Michigan Policy Network to help better her understanding of the Michigan government and how its policies ultimately affect the citizens of Michigan.