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Ideology won't drive insurance regulation changes: McRaith


WASHINGTON—The Federal Insurance Office's study on how to improve and modernize insurance regulation “will not be driven by any ideology,” the FIO's director said Friday.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which established the FIO, directs the office to present a study on insurance regulation to Congress in January.

The office has been seeking comments on the issue, and held a half-day conference on the matter at the Treasury Department on Friday.

Asking hard questions

FIO Director Michael McRaith said it is “absolutely important” that FIO ask hard questions as it prepares the study. As he asked questions of a panel of insurance industry representatives and others dealing with consumer insurance issues, Mr. McRaith said ideology will not drive the final report.

Mr. McRaith is “off to an excellent start,” said Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin during the session's opening address. He said despite the insurance industry's size and importance, “the federal government had no central repository for comprehensive insurance expertise” before the passage of Dodd-Frank.

The law “fixed this glaring omission so that, through FIO, we will have the institutional capability to develop and coordinate insurance policy at the federal level more effectively than in the past,” he said.

“Regulating the insurance industry is not one of FIO's responsibilities,” said Mr. Wolin. “Nothing in the Dodd-Frank Act alters the fact that insurance is fundamentally regulated by the states.”

He said that maintaining a “strong relationship” with the states would be key in fulfilling FIO's responsibilities.