Senate OKs Capital Flexibility for Insurers Under Dodd-Frank

By Cheyenne Hopkins | June 3, 2014

U.S. regulators would gain flexibility in how they apply capital standards to insurance companies under a bill approved today by the Senate.

The bill, approved by a voice vote, would ease a Dodd-Frank Act provision that imposes bank-like capital standards on the insurance industry.

“Applying bank standards to insurers could make the financial system riskier, not safer,” Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat who was a lead sponsor of the bill, said at a committee meeting today. “That is why the Federal Reserve must recognize the differences between the industries and ensure that institutions engaging in insurance are not held to the same capital requirements as traditional banks.”

The Dodd-Frank section, written by Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, requires the Federal Reserve to set minimum capital and leverage standards for non-bank firms, including the insurance industry. Collins has said her provision wasn’t meant to subject insurance companies to the same standards as banks, and the proposed revision was broadly supported by senators from both parties.

Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen and her predecessor, Ben S. Bernanke, have said they agree that insurance companies should meet different capital standards than banks. Fed officials have also said the language of Collins’s original proposal limits their ability to develop a different capital regime for insurance companies.

Brown and Collins’ bill would give the Fed flexibility to distinguish between banking and insurance when implementing capital standards.

“It never made sense to treat insurance companies like big banks and this clarification makes sure that doesn’t happen,” Senator Mike Johanns, a Nebraska Republican who also sponsored the bill, said in a statement after the Senate vote.

To become law, the bill, S. 2270, would need to be approved by the House of Representatives and signed by President Barack Obama.

 
Related Articles:
Sen. Collins: Finding the Right Capital Regulations for Insurers
Insurers Urge Lawmakers Not to Impose Bank Capital Requirements on Industry
Insurers, State Regulators Try to Block Bank-Like Rules by Federal Reserve

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Latest Comments

  • June 4, 2014 at 1:48 pm
    Former Status Quo says:
    No, you read it wrong. The Brown (D)/Collins (R) amendment clarifies Dodd-Frank so that insurance companies are not regulated by the same capital standards as banks (which is... read more
  • June 4, 2014 at 1:28 pm
    Libby says:
    Did I read that right? A republican for more regulation and a democrat fighting it?
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