WASHINGTON BUREAU — Michael McRaith, Illinois insurance director, could soon be named the first director of the Federal Insurance Office.
McRaith was in Washington on a speaking engagement and unable to comment, an Illinois Insurance Department spokesman said today.
But a number of industry lobbyists say they heard Wednesday that the U.S. Treasury Department has picked McRaith to fill the post.
A number of members of Congress have urged the Obama administration and the Treasury Department in recent days to act promptly to appoint the FIO director. The FIO director is supposed to be a non-voting member on the 13-member Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). Lawmakers also have urged the administration to appoint an independent FSOC member with insurance expertise, as required by the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that created the FSOC.
Under Dodd-Frank, independent FSOC member with insurance expertise must be confirmed by the
Senate. The FIO director will be a Treasury Department employee and is not subject to Senate confirmation.
In addition to being the Illinois insurance director, McRaith is the secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.
The Dodd-Frank Act gives the FIO no direct domestic regulatory authority, but the office will have the authority to monitor all activities related to the business of insurance except for health insurance and long term care insurance.
The FIO will advise the Treasury secretary on the financial health of insurers, and the office will help federal officials decide whether an insurer poses a potential risk to the stability of the financial system and ought to be subject to federal oversight as well as state oversight.
The FIO also will share negotiating authority on bilateral insurance trade agreements with the U.S. Trade Representative.