Mike Pickens

Commissioner

Arkansas Insurance Department

Little Rock


Mike Pickens

In less than eight months as commissioner of the Arkansas Insurance Department, Mike Pickens has made some foundational changes.

The department, years behind the pace in technology, has bought personal computers and software for the consumer services and licensing divisions. It now outsources its licensing exam for agents, leaving only one state that still does the tests in-house. Legislation introduced in this year's session made several changes in the agents code.

Pickens says his goal is to reform the Insurance Department so it conforms with the philosophy he shares with Gov. Mike Huckabee of a regulatory agency.

"Government needs to be more responsive to the bosses, the people," says the 35-year-old Pickens in describing his philosophy. "The second philosophy would be to work to help keep people in business and not to put them out of business. The third thing is to create a regulatory atmosphere conducive to providing the greatest selection of high-quality, affordable insurance products to the greatest number of Arkansans."

Pickens is a product of Pine Bluff High School who attended the University of Mississippi on a baseball scholarship. While he attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law, he worked as a clerk for Friday Eldredge & Clark.

After law school, he joined the Friday firm, working in insurance defense litigation, primarily personal injury and workers' comp defense.

"I did do some plaintiffs cases and sued a few insurance companies," he says with a laugh.

Pickens says he got to know Huckabee during the '92 Senate race.