Federal Insurance Office opens comments on reform

From: Reuters 

* Seeks comments by Dec. 16

* Comments will feed into reform report due in January

* Opinions sought on switch to federal regulation

Oct 17 (Reuters) – The Federal Insurance Office on Monday opened public commentary on a report on modernizing insurance regulation that is being closely watched by the industry for any move away from state oversight and toward federal control.

The FIO report, mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, is due by the end of January. At an industry conference in New York last month, current and former regulators said they would not be surprised if the report were delayed, though.

In a notice in the Federal Register, the office asked for comment on a range of subjects, including gaps in state regulations for consumer protection, uniformity (or the lack thereof) of regulation from state to state, and the potential costs and benefits of federal regulation.

Dodd-Frank also created the FIO itself, which has no regulatory authority but does have a broad mandate to monitor the industry and consult with the state regulators that currently oversee most aspects of the insurance business.

Michael McRaith, a former Illinois insurance commissioner, became the office’s inaugural director in March. Because he is a former state regulator, some in the industry expect the report to ultimately favor the current regulatory structure, though he has not tipped his hand to date.

The comments are due by Dec. 16.

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