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Department of Insurance History

During the period Idaho was a territory, and after statehood until 1901, insurance companies doing business in Idaho were governed under a special chapter of the State’s general corporations law. After Idaho became a state, it appears the Treasurer was responsible for administering these laws and was the “ex officio Insurance Commissioner.” The Department has an original copy of the Annual Report of the Insurance Commissioner for the year ending April 30, 1900, filed by State Treasurer Lucius C. Rice. As of April 1900, there were 516 companies and 4,565 agents licensed in Idaho.

On March 18, 1901, House Bill 115 was signed into law by the Governor and went immediately into effect. It was titled, “An Act to Provide for an Insurance Commissioner, Defining his Duties and Regulating his Compensation, and to Regulate License Insurance in this State, and to Repeal Existing Laws in Relation Thereto.” This law created the position of Insurance Commissioner to oversee the regulation of insurers in Idaho.The Insurance Commissioner was appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and served a two-year term.

The 1901 insurance law was entirely rewritten in 1911. The new law created an Insurance Department as a “distinct department charged with the execution of all laws in relation to insurance companies doing business in this State.” It further provided for the appointment of a State Insurance Commissioner and Deputy Insurance Commissioner, and significantly expanded the insurance code.

In 1919, a law was passed to reorganize the “civil departments” of the State. It took effect on March 31, 1919, and created a new department called the Department of Commerce and Industry. This law abolished the Insurance Department and the offices of the Insurance Commissioner and Deputy Insurance Commissioner, and vested their powers in the newly formed Department of Commerce and Industry. This act also created the Department of Finance.

The Department of Commerce and Industry created in 1919 turned out to be short-lived. Two years later, effective March 15, 1921, a law was passed that abolished the Department of Commerce and Industry and transferred its rights, powers and duties to the Department of Finance. That bill granted to the Department of Finance and its Commissioner the power to execute the laws relating to insurance and insurance companies. After this reorganization, the Director of Insurance and the Manager of State Industrial Insurance became officers overseeing bureaus under the Finance Commissioner. This arrangement lasted for the next 36 years.

On July 7, 1947, a law went into effect recreating the Office of Commissioner of Insurance. The 1947 law transferred the insurance regulatory powers of the Commissioner of Finance and the Director of Insurance to the Commissioner of Insurance – in effect, going full circle back to the 1901 arrangement. In 1961, the insurance code was again rewritten and provided for a Department of Insurance and Commissioner of Insurance.In 1974, the Commissioner of Insurance was changed to Director.

1901 – 1911: Insurance Commissioner created
1911 – 1919: Department of Insurance, Insurance Commissioner & Deputy Insurance Commissioner
1919 – 1921: Department of Commerce and Industry
1921 – 1947: Department of Finance with Insurance Director overseeing Bureau of Insurance
1947 – 1961: Office of Insurance Commissioner
1961 – 1974: Department of Insurance, Commissioner of Insurance
1974 – Department of Insurance, Director