OCI and Insurance in Wisconsin Timeline

Treaty of Paris Signed

Treaty of Paris Signed

America takes ownership of Wisconsin.

First State Capitol Established in Madison 

During its history, Wisconsin has had five capitols; the first two were territorial, temporary, capitols. The current Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, sits in the center of the Capitol Park, located atop a hilltop on an isthmus formed by lakes Monona and Mendota. The Wisconsin State Capitol houses the Wisconsin Legislature, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and the Office of the Governor. Read more and view photos on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website .

Wisconsin Day - May 29thWisconsin Becomes the 30th State in the Union

After the people of the Wisconsin Territory voted to become a state, Wisconsin’s constitution was drafted in 1846. The people of Wisconsin voted to ratify the Constitution on October 5, 1848. Congress passed the Wisconsin Enabling act on April 20, 1848, allowing the formation of a state government. On May 29, President Polk signed the Wisconsin Enabling Act into law, officially admitting Wisconsin into the Union as the 30th state.
Photo: Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Printed Ephemera Collection 

Paul v. Virgini​a

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1869, Paul v. Virginia, stated that insurance is not interstate commerce subject to the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution. As a result, the regulation of insurance was left to the states until 1944.

OCI Founded

The Wisconsin Secretary of State initially held the responsibility of insurance regulation.

First NAIC MeetingFirst National Meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioner​

The first meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), formerly known as the National Convention of Insurance Commissioners (NCIC), was held in New York, NY. The proceedings outlined their reason for forming. The delegates decided that there were benefits arising from agreements related to the discretionary powers of the commissioners. Specifically not​ed in this area were agreements related to terms and nomenclature. The second area was legislation. The convention observed that, while it could not enact laws, that it could influence them.

Photo: NAIC 

Creation of the Reciprocal General Insurance Act​

“The object of this act is to revise, simplify, and amend the laws of this State in relation to insurance, with due regard to the legislation of other States, so as to secure mutual harmony in the promotion of the public interest, to define the relation of the State to companies and individuals, to insure the stability of companies, to protect the interests of the insured, and to encourage the employment of capital.”​

Peshtigo Fire

The costliest fire in terms of loss of life occurred in and around Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and remains to this day the deadliest fire in American History. By the time the fire ended, it had consumed approximately 1.5 million acres, and an estimated 1,200-2,400 lives.

Commissioner​ of Insurance Position Created

This responsibility was transferred to a new position called the Commissioner of Insurance (1878 Wisc. Act 214) The governor by and with the consent of the senate, shall appoint some person who is suitably qualified, a commissioner of insurance, who shall hold their office for the term of two years from the first Monday of April in the year in which they are or shall hereafter be appointed, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed for cause by the governor.

Phillip L. Spooner Jr.First Commissioner​ Appointed

Governor William E. Smith appointed Phillip L. Spooner Jr. (pictured left) as the first insurance commissioner.

1881 Wisc. Act 300

Wisconsin State Legislature passed an Act (1881 Wisc. Act 300) making the position of Insurance Commissioner determined by statewide election rather than appointed by the Governor. “… and commissioner of insurance, shall be chosen at the general election in the year 1881, and biennially thereafter; and the regular term of office of said state officers, when elected for a full term, shall commence on the first Monday in January next succeeding their election.”

Newhall House Hotel Fire

Built by merchant Daniel Newhall in 1856 as one of the nation's most magnificent hotels, the Newhall House was still fashionable, though somewhat down at the heels. It's estimated that up to 90 people died in the fire. Read more and view photos on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website .

South Wing Additions on Capitol Collapse

While workers were building additions to the south wing of the third capitol building, a large portion of structure collapsed, killing five workers. View a photo on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website ​​.

View of New Richmond after the tornadoNew Richmond Tornado

The New Richmond tornado of June 12, 1899 was Wisconsin’s most devastating tornado- killing 117 and injuring 125 more.

Photo: Library of Congress 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Watertown

Sanborn Maps helped insurance agents in the late 19th and early 20th centuries determine the degree of fire hazard associated with a particular property. Read more and view maps on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website​ .

Wisconsin Mutual Company FoundedWisconsin Mutual Insurance Company Founded

When it was first organized, Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Company was originally under the name of Wisconsin Tornado Mutual Insurance Company. It was located in Milton, Wisconsin and moved its operations to Madison and changed to its current name. The company is fully owned by policyholders and is structured as a mutual company.

Photo: Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Company 

Fire at the Wisconsin State Capitol

The loss from the fire was estimated to be between $800,000 and $1 million dollars, but no one died in the fire.  Read more and view photos on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website .

State Life Insurance Fund Creation

The State Life Insurance Fund was established in 1911 in response to a national scandal over the improper practices of some life insurance companies. Wisconsin was the first state to establish a state life insurance fund for its residents when Chapter 577, Laws of 1911, authorized the agency to issue life insurance and annuity contracts.​

Appointment Process Reinstated​

​​With the enactment of Chapter 484, Laws of 1911, the insurance commissioner was again made an appointee.

Screenshot of the text from the senate hearing on the attempted removal of Herman EkernAttempted Removal of Herman Ekern 

Governor Francis E. McGovern attempted to remove Herman Ekern from office (took office in 1910 when the position was an elected one). Ekern successfully sued the governor to stay in office.

Northwestern National Insurance Company of Milwaukee Stamp 

View a stamp promoting Northwestern National Insurance Company of Milwaukee on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website . Stamp includes a drawing of a fireman with hose, and the text reads: "Safety First. Insure with the Northwestern National Insurance Co. Milwaukee"

Regulation to the States

Third State Capitol in Madison Erected 

The third State Capitol in Madison was erected. The structure, built in five phases over 11 years, cost $7,258,763.75 including the construction of the state heating plant and removal of the old building. Read more and view photos on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website .

Women's Suffrage 

Wisconsin became​ the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment (Women’s Suffrage). View a photo on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website .

Unemployment Compensation Benefits 

Wisconsin became the first state to enact Unemployment Compensation Benefits for its citizens. ​Learn more at ssa.gov ​View a photo of Governor Philip F. La Follette signing the unemployment insurance law on the Wisconsin Historical Society's website .

Text screenshot of the Uniform Insurers Liquidation Act and Wisconsin LawInsurer Liquidation Act First Adopted  

The Insurer Liquidation Model Act was first adopted, providing that whenever an insurer must liquidate, the state insurance commissioner or other designated state official will be appointed the exclusive receiver.​

Worst Blizzard in State History 

On November 11, 1940, the worst blizzard in state history occurred with over 150 deaths.

Seal of the Supreme Court of the United StatesPaul v. Virginia Overturned 

Paul v. Virginia was overturned by US Supreme Court: The court decision of Paul v. Virginia was overruled in 1944 which ruled that insurance transactions crossing state lines are interstate commerce and are subject to federal regulation.

McCarran‐Ferguson Act 

To remove any uncertainty over states’ regulatory authority over insurance created by Paul v. Virginia, the NAIC proposed a bill sponsored by U.S. Senators Pat McCarran and Homer S. Ferguson that would keep insurance regulation in the hands of the states. The McCarran-Ferguson Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945.

NAIC Sets Up Raleigh​ Office 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners set up their first office in Raleigh, North Carolina.

NAIC Moves Office to Chicago​

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners moves their office to Chicago, Illinois.

NAIC Moves Central Offices

NAIC moved central offices from Chicago to Milwaukee.

NFIP FoundedNational Flood Insurance Program Founded

Founded in 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)​ was managed by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and was tasked to “provide flood insurance, to improve floodplain management, and to develop maps of flood hazard zones.” Still around to this day, the NFIP helps to offset the potentially devastating cost of floods by providing affordable flood insurance to those in areas most at risk.

First Modern Guaranty Fund Enacted 

In 1969, Wisconsin enacted the first modern guaranty fund statute into their state regulation. Wisconsin state regulators sought to expand consumer protections through the Wisconsin Insurance Security Fund to ensure coverage against insolvent insurers. It also became the basis for language in the NAIC's Model Rehabilitation and Liquidation Act.

Journal with Fair Credit Reporting Act text on the coverCongress Enacts Fair Credit Reporting Act 

The Act protects information collected by consumer reporting agencies such as credit bureaus, medical information companies, and tenant screening services. The act introduced many protective measures, including the consumer’s right to access a free copy of their own credit report and to challenge any incorrect information. 

Dr. Joseph BenforadoSCAODA Established

Wisconsin State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (SCAODA)​ was established as part of the 1971 Senate Bill 574 ​with Dr. Joseph Benforado (pictured above) chairing the Council until 1976.

Photo: UW Madison 

IPFCF logoInjured Patients and Families Compensation Fund Established  

The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund was created by legislative enactment in 1975.​

Governor's Committee for People with DisabilitiesGovernor's Committee for People with Disabilities 

The Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities mission was broadened in 1976 to cover many aspects of disability in Wisconsin.

Board on Aging and Long-Term Care LogoBoard on Aging and Long-Term Care 

Created by the Wisconsin Legislature in 1981, the Board on Aging and Long-Term Care advocates for the interests of the state's long-term care consumers, to inform those consumers of their rights, and to educate the public at large about health care systems and long-term care.

NAIC Journal of Insurance RegulationNAIC Establishes Journal of Insurance Regulation

The NAIC established the Journal of Insurance Regulation as a forum for discussion of regulatory and public policy issues in insurance.

Photo: NAIC 

NAIC Central Offices Moved to Kansas City

NAIC moved their central offices from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Kansas City, Missouri.

Most Powerful U.S. Tornado of the Year 

Most powerful U.S. tornado of the year descended on Barneveld leaving nine dead.

Insurance Affordability and Availability Task Force Formed 

​The NAIC’s Insurance Affordability and Availability Task Force was formed to study urban insurance issues, originally called Urban Insurance Issues Subgroup.

Council Merger 

Wisconsin Act 210 merged the Citizens Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse with the State Council.​​

NAIC website displayed on a retro computernaic.org is Launched  

naic.org ​​​ is launched, enabling better information sharing between regulators, industry, and consumers.​

Paperwork with HIPAA Requirements printed on the first pagePassage of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1996. It regulates the collection, use, and storage of healthcare information to protect the health insurance industry and health insurance consumers from fraud, theft, and limits to healthcare coverage.

In response to the guidelines set out by HIPAA, the NAIC set up the Health Information Privacy Model Act “to protect health information from unauthorized collection, use, and disclosure by requiring carriers to establish procedures for the treatment of all health information.”

oci.wi.gov displayed on a retro laptopRedesigned oci.wi.gov Launched   

OCI's website redesign incorporated many new features such as a consistent top navigation bar, four separate sections for key areas (agent, company, consumer, department overview), quick links, site index, contact information, and text versions of pages.

Sale of Annuities Oversight    

​State insurance regulators began overseeing the sale of annuities.

Affordable Care Act PassedPassage of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act sought to solve the problem of health insurance access and affordability for millions of Americans. By establishing minimum essential services that health insurance companies must cover, and by eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions, gender-based price differences, and lifetime benefit maximums, the ACA opened access to millions of newly insurable individuals. It also brought unprecedented levels of regulation to the health insurance market.

News reporter standing with shovel in 3-4 feet of snow in Menomonee Falls Massive Winter Storm

Huge winter storm dumped almost two feet of snow in areas of the state with wind chills between -20 and -25 F.

Photo: w​isn.com 

Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy Established

Governor Walker signed Exe​​cutive Order #24 creating the Governor's Council on Financial Literacy.​

Continuous Improvement Program Begins

The Wisconsin Continuous Improvement Program provided agencies the freedom to implement the models of continuous improvement which are most appropriate for their agency so they can better support improvement efforts internally. OCI incorporates process improvement into everyday activities and all agency projects.

Governor's Task Force on Opioid Abuse Created

Governor Walker issued executive order #214 creating the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse​ ​.

​Local Government Property Insurance Fund 

The ​Local Government Property Insurance Fund began the process of closing.

NAIC Corporate Governance Disclosure Model Act Passage

Wisconsin passed the NAIC Corporate Governance Disclosure Model Act, s. 610.80: requiring an annual corporate governance disclosure filing from every insurer on June 1 of each year. 

Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan Enacted

In 2018, 2017​ Wisconsin Act 138 was passed with bipartisan support in the state Legislature creating the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan (WIHSP,) a state-based reinsurance plan. Later that year, OCI applied for a 1332 Waiver for State Innovation under the Affordable Care Act to leverage federal funding for WIHSP.

On July 29, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved Wisconsin's 1332 Waiver application. The initial approval was effective January 1, 2019. 

OCI DHS Health Care Coverage Partnership Announcement on FacebookOCI-DHS Health Care Coverage Partnership Advisory Council Creation

The OCI-DHS Health Care Coverage Partnership Advisory Council was formed to get more Wisconsin residents to enroll in affordable health insurance coverage. 

Local Government Property Insurance Fund Terminated​

Administered by OCI, the Local Government Property Insurance Fund was established in 1979 by Chapter 605, Wis. Stat. It was established to provide insurance coverage to government properties not owned by the State of Wisconsin. The Fund made insurance available for local government property such as municipal buildings, schools, libraries and vehicles.

OCI Instagram displayed on two mobile phonesOCI on Instagram

OCI's Instagram​  account was created.

OCI Instagram displayed on two mobile phones

Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices Meetings

OCI Mission Statement Updated

OCI updated our mission statement to, “Protecting and educating Wisconsin consumers by maintaining and promoting a strong insurance industry.” ​

Division of Regulation and Enforcement Separation

In February 2020, OCI went through an organizational restructuring. The Division of Regulation and Enforcement was split into the Division of Market Regulation and Enforcement and the Division of Financial Regulation. The duties of the former Bureau of Financial Analysis and Examinations transferred to the new Division of Financial Regulation. By separating the larger Division into two divisions, OCI can better provide customer service, focus on the regulation of the insurance industry in the state, and meet the specific needs of the duties assigned to each division.  ​​

An Unprecedented Year - COVID-19COVID-19

OCI adjusted many policies to accommodate for the global pandemic including new online resources, guidance around ​telehealth, and more.  ​​

WisCovered.com displayed on a desktop computer screen, laptop screen, and tablet screenWisCovered.com Launched

OCI-DHS Health Care Coverage Partnership Marketing Workgroup launched WisCo​vered.com ​​​​.​

NAIC Announces Special Committee on Race and Insurance

The Committee ​​ is tasked with looking at the impact of current insurance industry practices on people of color and other historically disenfranchised populations.

Financial Filing Portal Launched

After extensive design, development, and testing, OCI made the new Financial Filing Portal fully operational in the fall of 2020 as part of the Continuous Improvement Process. Since its launch, over 10,000 filings have been submitted through the portal saving paper and staff time. ​

Recovered 4.7 Million for Wisconsin Residents 

The Consumer Affairs section, in conjunction with the legal liaisons and the legal department recovered $4,716,458 in 2021 for Wisconsin consumers that filed complaints with OCI. View our press release.​​

American Rescue Plan Act Passed 

The American Rescue Plan Act was passed in March 2021 and extended eligibility for ACA health insurance subsidies to people buying their own health coverage on the Marketplace who have incomes over 400% of poverty. The law also increased the amount of financial assistance for people at lower incomes who were already eligible under the ACA. These subsidies were originally intended to last for two years but were later extended by the Inflation Reduction Act.​​

Stronger Wisconsin campaign members tour a facility in Door CountyStronger Wisconsin Campaign  

OCI started the Stronger Wisconsin campaign to build a more resilient Wisconsin in the face of our changing climate.

PSI Agent Licensing ExamsAgent Licensing Exams Available in Spanish and Hmong

OCI began to offer insurance agent licensing exams in Spanish and Hmong. Wisconsin law requires people applying for an insurance agent license to complete applicable pre-licensing education courses and pass an exam administered by PSI . Exams in other languages were intended to help diversify the agent force in Wisconsin. ​