Have a strong opinion on what the federal government’s role should be going forward in regulating insurance? I hope you do. Now is your chance to have your opinion heard by the people actually making the rules.
On Oct. 17, the fledgling Federal Insurance Office published in the Federal Register a “request for comment.” It invites the public to provide input as to what the government’s role should be in regulating the domestic and international activities involving the business of insurance.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires the FIO to conduct a study on how to modernize and improve the system of insurance regulation in the United States. The study must be submitted to Congress by late January 2012 — no more than 18 months after the date of the Dodd-Frank Act's enactment. To assist the FIO in conducting the study and formulating its recommendations, the FIO issued the request for comment.
It is vitally important that highly competent life insurance industry professionals from up and down the distribution chain take advantage of this opportunity to provide input in advance of this potential industry-changing study. Don’t do nothing now and complain later if the FIO report comes out with recommendations that seek to add unnecessary layers of bureaucratic oversight that will hurt insurance professionals and consumers alike.
You want to provide a comment? Click this link and you’re on your way. But don’t procrastinate for long. The comment deadline is Dec. 16, and early submissions are “encouraged” (as are electronic submissions of those comments).
The FIO also requests that comments should include: (1) The data or rationale, including examples, supporting any opinions or conclusions; (2) approaches and options toward improvement or modernization, if any; and, (3) any specific legislative, administrative or regulatory proposals for carrying out such approaches or options.
The FIO, which was established through the Dodd-Frank Act, got off to a slow start with a long-delayed appointment by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner of a director — Michael McRaith, former head of the Illinois Department of Insurance. McRaith will make his first appearance before a House subcommittee on Tuesday in Washington. He is expected to be asked questions by committee members designed to provide reassurance that the FIO will stick to its stated Dodd-Frank intention of being a provider of information to federal officials regarding insurance issues — and not seek to expand the office to include oversight of insurers and agents.
The FIO currently has no regulatory authority, but that could change based on the January 2012 report to Congress about how insurance regulation can be modernized and otherwise improved, and Congress’ reaction to the report.