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OPINION: Federal Insurance Office regulatory report looks to be MIA


LAST WEEK, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., sent a letter to Michael McRaith, the director of the Federal Insurance Office, asking him to review certain activities of the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners. In his letter, Rep. Royce noted the existence of “pending” FIO insurance regulatory modernization.

We're glad he mentioned that report. After all, we've been waiting for it for nearly six months now.

Those with long memories will recall that the report was supposed to be presented to Congress by the end of January. And those with an understanding of how Washington too often works know that such deadlines often aren't met. We said in March that we weren't “troubled” that the report was a little late.

Well, now it's more than a little late. The insurance industry and its customers—including risk managers—ought to know what the FIO has in mind for improving the regulation of insurance.

We've got our opinions on that issue. Allowing insurers and producers to choose to be regulated by a single federal authority rather than a patchwork of state regulators tops that list.

At the same time, we have no reason to believe the FIO report will go that far. Mr. McRaith has said FIO isn't a regulator, and we believe him. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act sharply limits the FIO's regulatory powers.

Still, the FIO can greatly influence how insurance is regulated. It can prod states to reform and modernize regulatory practices. As the first-ever federal-level insurance authority, the FIO also should play a critical role in presenting U.S. views in international insurance regulatory forums.

The report will give a clear indication of how the FIO plans to approach its job. With elections looming, we hope the report is issued soon, and the sooner the better.

The FIO already has embarked on crafting another report—this one on reinsurance. That report is due no later than Sept. 30. We certainly hope that the belated report on insurance regulatory modernization appears long before that deadline.