Jobs, data collection and the health of American International Group were among the questions members of a House panel sought answers to as Michael McRaith, new director of the Federal Insurance Office, made his first public appearance as FIO head.
McRaith also said that the study of insurance regulation mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act and due in January “will not be a recycling of anything we have seen before.”
He said the review will be based on the comments we receive, as well as the consultation process we will do.
“The reports will be based on the merits and the substance of the issue,” McRaith said.
“We absolutely do not use old, xeroxed material that has been unexamined,” McRaith said.
Moreover, he said, the FIO plans, “absolutely” to meet the Jan. 12th, 2012 deadline for publishing the report.
McRaith made his comments in appearance before the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity of the House Financial Services Committee.
Rep. Judy Biggert, chairman of the subcommittee, said her biggest concern is that adding a federal layer to insurance regulation will get in the way of creating new jobs, which McRaith said was unfounded.
She said she has heard that because of Dodd-Frank, companies are not expanding their businesses and creating jobs.
“As our country struggles with a slow economic recovery and unemployment at 9.1 percent, should any actions be taken, or are they functioning well?,” Biggert asked McRaith.
She also voiced concern about the uncertainty of insurers having to have higher capital standards if they are forced to operate under rules designed to regulate banks.
In his reply, McRaith said the property and casualty industry is “very competitive,” noting the huge number of industry advertisements, especially during sports.
At the same time, he said the FIO continues to evaluate all aspects of industry regulation, and is trying to determine if there is a better way to protect consumers, to provide affordable coverage, a better way to allow insurers to compete internationally.
McRaith asked Biggert to adopt a “wait and see attitude, because the FSOC will designate insurers as systemically significant.