This week, the leadership of PIA, led by National President Tony Curti (Michigan), presented Congressman Ben Cline (R-VA) with the 2022 PIA Legislator of the Year Award. The Award honors Rep. Cline for his steadfast leadership in championing legislation to repeal the Federal Insurance Office (FIO). FIO repeal is a PIA top priority.
For PIA, Rep. Cline is a key ally in our effort to repeal the FIO. On July 30, 2021, Rep. Cline introduced H.R. 4866, the Federal Insurance Office Elimination Act of 2021.
The FIO Elimination Act will protect the successful state insurance regulatory system by repealing the FIO, an unnecessary federal bureaucracy created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank). PIA opposed the creation of the FIO from the outset and we firmly believe its very existence is a threat to the successful state insurance regulatory system.
As long as the FIO exists, it is likely to grow in power and responsibility. One such effort occurred in 2017, when the House passed a bill that would have created a new office of the “independent insurance advocate,” which would have substantially increased the size and scope of the FIO by permitting it to hire an expansive professional staff, giving it a Senate-confirmable director, allowing it to issue regulations, and granting it a line item in the federal budget. Thankfully, the bill never advanced in the Senate, but its House passage served as a warning sign that its continued existence will inevitably prompt efforts to increase its size and power.
The FIO remains a threat given the recent expansion of its mandate. In 2021, the Biden administration issued an Executive Order (EO) on Climate-Related Financial Risk, which directed the Treasury Secretary to task the FIO with assessing “climate-related issues or gaps in the supervision and regulation of insurers.” The EO opened the door to yet another issue for the FIO to involve itself in, and, late last year, the FIO issued a Request for Information on climate-related insurance risk.
To his credit, Rep. Cline recognizes the importance of ensuring the FIO not supplant the regulation of insurance at the state level, and his introduction of a bill to repeal the office demonstrates his leadership on a subject of vital interest to independent agents and other supporters of state-based insurance regulation.