Leading Advocate for Ohio Consumers Receives Insurance Industry Award

COLUMBUS, OH – Barbara Sears, Assistant Director for the Office of Health Transformation, is a leading advocate for important insurance issues impacting Ohio consumers. The Ohio Insurance Agents Association has awarded Sears the 2016 Independence Bell Award for her positive contributions to the insurance industry.

“Barbara Sears has a unique ability and knack for digging into the details of public policy issues,” says Jeff Smith, Director of Government Affairs and General Counsel at the Ohio Insurance Agents Association. “Her incredible knowledge on many issues, including insurance and Ohio’s workers’ compensation system, is unmistakable. She has been a leading advocate on several public policy issues that are critical to both Ohio consumers and independent insurance agents.”

Prior to her current role with the Office of Health Transformation, Sears was the Majority Floor Leader for the past three legislative sessions and a long-time independent insurance agent focused on employee health benefits. She was a co-sponsor for the Responsible Driver Protection Act, which seeks to protect responsible Ohio drivers who have been in an accident with an uninsured motorist. She chaired the House Insurance Committee when this bill was passed in the legislature.

To protect consumers, she was lead sponsor for the certificates of insurance bill (H.B. 259), which prohibits falsified or altered certificates of insurance. She was also a lead sponsor for H.B. 493, which established the Workers’ Compensation Other States Coverage Program in Ohio. In addition, Sears sponsored Ohio’s health insurance navigator bill (H.B. 3), which established regulations for navigators involved in helping consumers choose a health insurance plan on the exchange.

“I am very honored to receive the 2016 Independence Bell Award from the Ohio Insurance Agents,” Sears says. “Throughout my career, I have always been passionate about helping to elevate the professionalism of Ohio’s robust and competitive insurance industry, and help make a positive impact in the lives of Ohio consumers.”

Sears is a member of the Sylvania Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Ohio Association of Health Underwriters and Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society. She is also past president of the Toledo Independent Insurance Agents and Insurance Women of Toledo.

Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agencies protect consumers and employers by offering them access to the best resources, tools and professional development programs available. OIA serves our members in four key areas: advocacy, professional development, business solutions and industry thought leadership.

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