Federal Insurance Office Says Overdue Regulation Report Still Weeks Away

By Young Ha | February 6, 2012

The Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office was expected to complete and send its highly anticipated report on modernization of insurance regulation to Congress in January. But now, it looks like it may take a bit longer.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Treasury told Insurance Journal on Wed., Feb. 1, that it might be weeks before the report is released.

“We are hard at work preparing FIO’s first report on how to improve and modernize the system of insurance regulation in the U.S., and expect to send the report to Congress in the coming weeks,” the spokesperson said.

The report is now almost two weeks overdue. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the FIO, had specified that the study must be submitted to Congress not later than 18 months after the date of the Dodd-Frank Act’s enactment. The Dodd-Frank Act was enacted on July 21, 2010, which makes the FIO report officially due on Jan. 21, 2012.

Section 313(p) of Title 31 of the United States Code, as codified by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, required the FIO to conduct a study on how to modernize and improve the system of insurance regulation in the United States.

The FIO monitors all aspects of the insurance industry, including identifying issues contributing to systemic risk. The office also monitors the availability and affordability of insurance to traditionally underserved populations; advises the Treasury Secretary on major domestic insurance policy issues; and develops and coordinates federal policy on international insurance regulatory matters.

On Jan. 10, FIO Director Michael McRaith remarked during the Insurance Information Institute’s annual industry forum that his office has gotten close to 150 comment letters from the industry with recommendations on how to improve the regulatory system. The FIO also organized various meetings with industry leaders in the past few months.

“There were a number of very lengthy, well-thought-out responses to the FIO’s call for information,” said Michael Nelson, chairman of Nelson Levine de Luca & Horst, a Pennsylvania-headquartered law firm that provides legal services to the insurance industry.

“I am assuming that the FIO is doing its best to make sure it understands all the different thoughts and put them into a meaningful summary that helps those around these issues understand different viewpoints. I can tell you that there are different viewpoints on how the FIO should be positioned, and obviously there is a viewpoint that the U.S. state-based regulatory scheme works extremely well. But there is an important voice in Washington to work on a national platform to work with members of other countries and with international organizations.”

“I am sure that the appropriate parties inside the Federal Insurance Office has talked with Congress about the status,” he said.

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