Illinois insurance regulator picked to lead new Federal Insurance Office
The new Federal Insurance Office finally has a director.
On March 17, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the Federal Insurance Office will be led by Michael McRaith, who currently directs the Illinois Department of Insurance.
The office was created in July 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The federal agency’s primary purpose is to monitor all aspects of insurance, except for health insurance, crop insurance and some long-term care insurance. The office doesn’t have any regulatory powers; state insurance commissioners retain that control.
Susan Nolan, executive director of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, tells InsuranceQuotes.com that she hopes the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) does not try to override the powers of state insurance commissioners.
|Michael McRaith, the insurance commissioner in Illinois, has been chosen to head the new Federal Insurance Office.|
“Our legislators have historically expressed concern with the potential scope of the FIO and the possibility of ‘mission creep,’” Nolan says. “Legislators want to ensure that any FIO action would not pre-empt or downgrade the strong state consumer protections that have been put in place over the last decade and a half.”
On the other hand, Charles Chamness, president and CEO of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Commissioners, embraces McRaith’s appointment and the Federal Insurance Office.
“As both a state regulator and an officer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Director McRaith knows that state insurance departments and the NAIC have an enormous amount of data to draw from, and he knows where to find it,” Chamness says. “With this knowledge, we believe he will be able to fulfill the mandate of FIO without costly, duplicative requests for the same data collected by the states.”
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America also applauds McRaith’s appointment.
“Director McRaith brings extensive experience in the insurance sector and a deep understanding of the state insurance regulatory system,” says David Sampson, the group’s president and CEO.
Eli Lehrer, vice president of The Heartland Institute, a public policy think tank, praises McRaith as smart and competent.
“He has presided over one of the country’s better insurance regulatory systems and does a good job,” Lehrer says.
McRaith, 45, has been Illinois’ insurance director since 2005. He is secretary/treasurer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Aside from overall monitoring of many segments of the insurance industry, duties of the Federal Insurance Office include:
• Tracking access to affordable insurance (except health insurance) in traditionally under-served communities.
• Making recommendations to the federal government’s Financial Stability Oversight Council about which insurers pose risks.
• Administering the Treasury Department’s Terrorism Risk Insurance Program.
• Coordinating international insurance matters.