The incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is supportive of an optional federal charter for life insurers, but is “skeptical” about whether it would be appropriate for property/casualty insurers.
At the same time, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said that renewing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act is a “very high priority” for his committee.
Frank would not give a timetable for action, but said he wants to send a signal to remove any uncertainty in the marketplace that TRIA would expire as scheduled on Dec. 31, 2007. The committee will act to make certain TRIA “won’t lapse,” he said.
Frank made his comments as the opening speaker at the Consumer Federation of America’s 19th Annual Financial Services Conference, being held here.
Regarding the OFC, which American Council of Life Insurers president and CEO Frank Keating said at a meeting of banking and insurance lobbyists last week “is the top priority of the ACLI for the third year in a row,” Frank said the need for such legislation is “debatable.”
Life insurance, he said, “has increasingly become a financial product with no geographical issues,” in contrast to an OFC for p/c insurance, which is “more regional.”
Asked to respond to speculation within the industry that the price for an OFC would be compliance with the Consumer Reinvestment Act, which gives bank regulators some oversight over the activities of banks, Frank dismissed it. “There are no deals in the works,” he said.