Bipartisan Think Tank to Tackle Insurance Regulation

March 11, 2015

Washington is getting a new task force focused on insurance regulation.

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is launching the task force to assess the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on insurance and to identify ways to improve insurance oversight.

The Insurance Task Force will be co-chaired by Republican William H. McCartney, former Nebraska state insurance director and past president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and Democrat Robert E. Litan, a regulatory policy scholar and former Clinton administration official.

“The Dodd-Frank Act intended to create a framework for 21st century banking regulation while leaving insurance regulation largely in state hands. However, Dodd-Frank has impacted insurance regulation far more than most predicted, and those insurers it has affected are caught up in a regulatory system largely designed for banks,” said McCartney.

“Smart, sensible measures are needed to improve insurance regulation at the state, federal and international levels.”

BPC was founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker (R), Tom Daschle (D), Bob Dole (R) and George Mitchell (D). Board members include Olympia Snowe, former U.S. senator from Maine; Jane Garvey, former Federal Aviation Administration chief; Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute; and Frank Keating, CEO of American Bankers Association and former Oklahoma governor. Its senior fellows include former U.S. Senators John Danforth, Bill Frist, Robert Bennett, Byron Dorgan, Trent Lott and Slade Gordon.

The task force plans to hold a series of private roundtables and host public events to gather information. Key topics to be explored include the proper role of:

  • The Federal Insurance Office (FIO), the Federal Reserve, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and the federal governmental presence in insurance regulation, and whether to create an optional federal charter for insurance companies;
  • The state insurance regulatory system (e.g., solvency regulation, state guaranty funds and uniform standards);
  • The global insurance regulatory system as it relates to U.S. decisions on insurance regulation, global cooperation and coordination on insurance regulation; and
  • Consumer protection regulation to help ensure that families and businesses have access to safe and affordable insurance products they need and want.

BPC said it will publish a series of issue briefs on key topics and release policy recommendations. “What is crystal-clear is that insurers and banks have very different business models and demand very different regulatory policies,” said Litan. “We hope our policy recommendations will lay the groundwork for meaningful reforms that will improve oversight, while allowing the insurance market to function efficiently and serve its vital role in the nation’s economy.”

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