When you write, edit and publish news for a living, it feels great to get a scoop, and yesterday, that’s exactly what National Underwriter did. Going off of confidential intelligence given to him by sources he has spent years cultivating, our Washington bureau chief, Arthur D. Postal, broke the story that the Federal Insurance Office’s as-yet-to-be-appointed director is almost certainly going to be Illinois’ director of insurance, MichaelMcRaith. Reuters ran the same news a few hours later, which was then picked up by various other outlets. But make no mistake: National Underwriter was there first.
But enough chest-thumping. That McRaith seems the likeliest choice for the FIO job is not such surprising news, really. McRaith has been pegged by National Underwriter as the likeliest contender for the top FIO spot for some time. He would come to the job well equipped for it. After a distinguished legal career, he made a name for himself in the world of insurance regulation, focusing his attentions especially on thorny issues such as credit scoring.
For those vested in seeing a FIO that remains a largely advisory office, McRaith seems like a welcome choice, having an extensive background in state regulation, and with the NAIC, where is currently serving as that group’s Secretary/Treasurer. (By the way,National Underwriter ran an investigative series on the NAIC last November for which might win the Jesse H. Neal award in business journalism for best series of linked articles. We’ll know for sure this time next week.)As a result, the logic follows, he would be unenthusiastic about expanding federal regulation of insurance at the expense of the current state-based regime. I am not so certain of that, however.
When I put McRaith’s NAIC background against the FIO opportunity, it seemed like an odd match. Was this a defection from the NAIC? Was this the NAIC getting one of their own into a federal agency poised to expand federal insurance oversight at the potential cost of state regulation?
When I asked fellow editor Phil Gusman of National Underwriter Property & Casualty about this, he could not speculate as to larger motives, he could just tell me what he knew of McRaith. Nobody could run a meeting like him, he could run rings around insurers at will, and he was sharp as a tack.