Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner announced Thursday that the first director of the new Federal Insurance Office (FIO) will be Michael McRaith, currently insurance director of Illinois and formerly the secretary/treasurer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
The announcement was made, according to a report in The Hill, at a meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), a panel created by Dodd-Frank to assemble all heads of major financial regulators for discussion of matters that affect the financial sector. NU Online News Service reported that McRaith, as head of FIO, will be in charge of an office responsible for keeping the Treasury secretary up to date on the financial health of insurers, as well as helping federal officials determine any potential risk an insurer might pose to the stability of the financial system.
FIO, also created by Dodd-Frank, had not had its top slot, which also occupies a position on the FSOC, filled until now. There had been criticism from both Democrats and Republicans that the FIO position on the FSOC, as well as another position designated for an independent insurance expert, remained unoccupied. Prior to McRaith’s appointment, there was only a single spot on the FSOC panel filled by an insurance expert; that position was nonvoting. Criticism held that the FSOC was involved in matters that impacted the insurance industry without sufficient expertise on the council.
The FIO will share negotiating authority, according to the report, on bilateral insurance trade agreements with the U.S. Trade Representative. McRaith will, in addition to his other duties, be responsible for monitoring the insurance industry and for advising Congress and other federal entities about insurance matters.