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SERIES: Meet Your Regulator: Tom Carswell (GA)

Employment:  Tom is the Assistant Director of the Insurance Product Review Division at the Georgia Department of Insurance. His Division oversees both Property and Casualty and Life and Health Sections.   Tom currently holds the unofficial title of having the longest tenure of any employee at the GA DOI with 36 years of service.  He has no plans to stop as he continues to enjoy his work.

Education:  Tom grew up in the Jacksonville, FL area and earned a B.A. degree from the University of Florida.  He has completed master’s courses as well as earned his FLMI.  Also, he completed several HIAA/GHAA courses, which is now AHIP.

How did you come into the insurance industry?  When Tom graduated college, he wanted to go into banking but in the late 70’s - mid-80’s, it was not a good time for the banking industry.  Tom was working at Independent Life Insurance Company, first as an actuarial student, but later as an employee in their legal department doing compliance work.  His work included filing advertising with state insurance departments. After about five years with Independent Life, he had the opportunity to move into the GA department of insurance, so Tom moved to the Atlanta area to pursue that regulatory compliance opportunity.

What life experiences taught you the most?  Tom has been appreciative of his time in service with the GA Department of Insurance.  His time in state government has allowed him to be a better parent, he says, as it has permitted him the time and opportunity to help support his children through their endeavors, whether it was in sports or to be an active participant in his son’s journey through Boy Scouts to earn his Eagle Scout award. 

Who was your favorite personal or professional mentor?  His first role at the GA DOI was as the Assistant to Life Actuary.  He worked with an actuary, Mr. Ed Flickner, who was a WWII veteran, a Yale man, who had experiences in the industry from working at Prudential and other prominent insurance carriers.  He worked for him from approximately 1983 to 1996.  Ed was a very sharp man.  For example, Ed taught himself basic computer programming and was an early adopter when personal computers were brand new.  Tom picked up programming interests from Ed.  Tom found it very interesting, as well. Together, beginning in the late 1980’s Tom and Ed wrote various PC database programming routines to help automate many manual processes in various divisions within the GA DOI.

Tom has also found it interesting to work with the NAIC on process development practical working models, one of which was consumer complaint categories.

Away from Work:   Singing!  Tom had formal voice training and sings with the award-winning group, “Atlanta Master Chorale”.  The group has filled Emory University concert hall on several occasions. Atlanta Master Chorale has its own channel on YouTube.  Learn more about the choir:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-95GEl5UxyxlGIqI-J0blg

You can check out the choir in action in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlluY-9JZBQ  

Also, through his life, he has supported his children through their sporting activities.

Personal life: Tom is married with two grown children, a son and a daughter.  Tom and his wife, Brenda,  are expecting their first grandchild from their daughter at the end of this year (2019).  Let the fun begin!!

Future Plans:   Tom will be spending time spoiling his new grandchild, but he has no plans yet to retire.

Involvement with the AICP:  Tom has been a great friend to the AICP as he is a sought-after speaker at many annual conferences, as well as a speaker at the Gulf States Chapter Education Days.  Tom explains that through the communication the AICP provides, people can work through issues and head them off before they become problems. 

The AICP has been supportive of Tom, as well.  His son, Bryan Carswell, was awarded an AICP Scholarship in 2006.

Other Items to Note about Tom:  Tom has also served the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) through some milestone projects, like Georgia’s adoption of SERFF; Georgia’s NAIC State accreditation; and the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission (“Compact”).  What also is keeping him challenged, like most of us in recent years, is the blending of federal regulations in with state insurance regulations, such as HIPAA and ACA regulations.  He is also staying ahead of development as he is seeing insurance companies doing business via mobile phones and working in social media.  Challenges like these are why he is still finding it interesting to stay at the Georgia Department of Insurance. 

by Karen Crooks

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