WASHINGTON—Michael McRaith will make his first congressional appearance as head of the fledgling Federal Insurance Office Tuesday when he testifies before a House subcommittee.
Members of the committee are expected to ask McRaith questions designed to provide reassurance to their insurance constituents that the new FIO will stick to its legislative knitting as a provider of information to federal officials on insurance issues, and not to seek to expand the office to include day-to-day oversight of insurers and agents.
The hearing will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. by the financial panel’s Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity. The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill.
According to several industry officials, at the request of the Treasury Department there will be no questions asked McRaith regarding his views on legislative initiatives he thinks the administration should pursue.
One of McRaith’s first jobs will be advising the Financial Stability Oversight Council on which insurers should be federally regulated as systemically significant.
The other is preparing a report to Congress mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial services reform law as to how regulation of the insurance industry can be modernized and otherwise improved.
The report is due in late January. The FIO earlier this week published in the Federal Register a request for comment on a number of questions, many related to what do the commenters think the federal government’s role should be going forward in regulating the domestic and international activities involving the business of insurance.
The FIO was established through the Dodd-Frank Act. It has no regulatory authority, and its job is limited to administering the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, collecting information from the insurance industry for monitoring purposes, and providing advice and information on insurance matters to Congress, Treasury, the FSOC, and the U.S. Trade Representative.
Some insurers have expressed concerns to members of Congress that the FIO’s data-gathering initiatives may duplicate data-gathering mandates from other federal and state regulators, making it costly to insurers, especially smaller ones, according to congressional staffers.