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OPINION: FIO report highly anticipated by insurance industry

OPINION: FIO report highly anticipated by insurance industry

THE FEDERAL INSURANCE OFFICE'S report on insurance regulatory modernization was supposed to be delivered to Congress weeks ago. We wish the report had been released sooner rather than later, but we're not troubled by the fact that the document hasn't been issued yet.

That's because the FIO report should be one of the more significant documents regarding the state of insurance regulation prepared in recent times. It will, after all, be the first report of its kind written by the federal agency specifically charged with crafting a federal approach to insurance.

We realize that the report is highly unlikely to recommend any sort of federal regulation of insurance beyond the highly circumscribed powers granted the FIO by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

FIO Director Mike McRaith has said more than once that the agency isn't out to regulate insurance. As much as we would prefer regulatory reforms such as an optional federal charter for insurers and brokers, we take him at his word and accept it. The appetite for sweeping regulatory reform simply doesn't exist now in Washington, particularly in a presidential election year.

But we believe that even as an agency devoted to advising the government on insurance rather than regulating insurance, the FIO has a unique role to play. The upcoming report will go a long way toward indicating what that role will be.

We believe the FIO can serve as a bully pulpit for reform even if it does little, if any, regulating itself. It can recommend continuing modernization of state insurance regulation as well as provide the United States with a strong voice in international insurance regulatory affairs.

The report will reflect the FIO's consideration of more than 100 comments made to the agency about regulatory modernization and other issues the FIO is charged with examining. While we obviously don't know what sort of recommendations will be made, we have no reason to doubt that many of them will be sound ones that will more than justify the slight delay.