Several dozen large U.S. life insurers have written to offer their assistance and any information they can provide to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, gathered the signatures of 36 life insurance company chief executives for the letter.

In the letter, the executives express support for the creation of a federal Office of Insurance Information within the Treasury Department.

“Although we realize you are currently grappling with issues that require your immediate attention, we hope you will continue to support the creation of an information office as part of the reforms likely to be implemented by your department in the coming months,” the executives write.

“Such an office would provide your department with the best means of efficiently gathering publicly available information on our business as you and other policymakers evaluate the appropriate regulatory oversight of U.S. financial institutions,” the executives write.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee capital markets subcommittee, has introduced an OII bill, H.R. 5840.

Advocates say an OII could give Treasury officials advice and ease international insurance trade negotiations.

Critics say an OII could lead to federal regulation of insurance and undermine what they believe to be consumer safeguards, such as the California insurance rate regulation system.