Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has hired Michael McRaith to be the first director of the new Federal Insurance Office.
McRaith is the Illinois insurance director and has been the secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.
State insurance regulators and members of Congress have been urging the Obama administration and the Treasury Department to move quickly to appoint an FIO director. The FIO director is supposed to be a non-voting member on the 13-member Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). Lawmakers also have urged the administration to appoint an independent FSOC member with insurance expertise, as required by the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that created the FSOC.
Under Dodd-Frank, the independent FSOC member with insurance expertise must be confirmed by the Senate.
When McRaith takes over as the FIO director, will be a Treasury Department employee and will not be subject to Senate confirmation.
The job will pay between $119,554 and $179,700 a year.
Before being appointed as Illinois insurance director, McRaith, who has a law degree from Loyola University School Of Law, worked for 15 years as a lawyer in Chicago. McRaith serves on the executive committee of the board for the AIDS Foundation Of Chicago and on board for the Chicago chapter of
the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention.
The Dodd-Frank Act gives the FIO no direct domestic regulatory authority, but the office will have the authority to monitor all activities related to the business of insurance except for health insurance and long term care insurance.
The FIO will advise the Treasury secretary on the financial health of insurers, and the office will help federal officials decide whether an insurer poses a potential risk to the stability of the financial system and ought to be subject to federal oversight as well as state oversight. He will fill a seat on the Financial Stability Oversight Council.
The FIO also will share negotiating authority on bilateral insurance trade agreements with the U.S. Trade Representative.
The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), Washington, has put out a statement welcoming McRaith's appointment.
"ACLI has worked with Mr. McRaith on a variety of issues in his home state and at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners," ACLI President Dirk Kempthorne says in the statement. "We expect he will serve as capably and professionally as the new director of FIO as he did as Illinois' top insurance regulator."