Insurance and banking industry officials met with Treasury Department officials Wednesday to discuss the administration’s views on efforts to create an optional federal charter for insurance companies.

Kevin McKechnie, a lobbyist for the American Bankers Insurance Association, Washington, says the Treasury Department scheduled the meeting, with Emil Henry, the department’s assistant secretary for financial institutions, to hear the arguments of OFC proposal supporters.

Treasury Department officials and representatives for the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, declined to talk about the meeting, but one attendee described it as “courteous.”

Lisa McGreevy, executive vice president for external affairs at the Financial Services Roundtable, Washington, says the meeting was “significant, because for the first time the Treasury Department has asked for and initiated a discussion about the OFC.”

The Financial Services Roundtable, a group that represents large financial services companies, has listed creating an optional federal charter as a top 2006 legislative priority.

“There is a dearth of information, a vacuum, in Washington, D.C., relative to insurance regulation,” McGreevy says. “Treasury, by default, has taken the lead on insurance issues as a result of what happened on 9/11.”

As Treasury officials get involved in the insurance marketplace, it is natural for them to gather information so they can better understand the various policy options everyone is talking about, McGreevy says.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, says the committee will be looking at state insurance regulation this year.

Some say Sens. John Sununu, R-N.H., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., are preparing an OFC bill that could be introduced later this month.