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AIA urges Treasury to allow federal charters


WASHINGTON--The American Insurance Assn. is urging the Treasury Department to consider allowing insurers to choose a federal charter rather than a state charter as part of the department's effort to modernize financial regulation, according to a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Monday.

In his letter to the secretary, AIA President Marc Racicot noted that the Treasury last week announced a plan to create a rationalized regulatory structure for U.S. capital markets to enhance their competitiveness.

"We believe your effort to evaluate the current regulatory regimes in the financial services sector is particularly important for the insurance industry because insurers are governed by an outdated, inefficient regulatory structure," wrote Mr. Racicot. "It stands to reason that insurance--one of the pillars of the financial services industry--should function with oversight by a world-class regulator in a modernized, uniform framework."

"In that spirit, we feel strongly that such a framework can be achieved through an optional federal charter for insurers," said Mr. Racicot. "Modeled after the dual banking system, this approach would provide the option for insurers to be nationally regulated and would preserve the state-based regulatory structure for those choosing to remain in the current system."