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Leonardi Slams FIO, Warns of Regulatory Chaos

Days before he is set to speak in Washington, D.C. at a Property Casualty Insurers Association of America roundtable discussion about international insurance regulation, former Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi gave an interview which reminded everyone about his well-deserved reputation for outspokenness...
September 7, 2016

Days before he is set to speak in Washington, D.C. at a Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) roundtable discussion about international insurance regulation, former Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi gave an interview which reminded everyone about his well-deserved reputation for outspokenness.

Leonardi
In a wide-ranging interview with Best’s News Service, Leonardi said international regulators need to be more transparent in developing global insurance capital standards and maintain an open dialogue with the carriers they seek to supervise, as well as U.S. state regulators.

Leonardi is a steadfast supporter of state regulation of insurance. He sounded a warning about the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), a part of the U.S. Treasury Department.  FIO and the Treasury are now in negotiations for a covered agreement with European regulators, who have pushed the U.S. to adopt a system of federal insurance regulation similar to theirs. There are concerns that possible outcomes of these covered agreement talks could threaten the U.S. system of state-based insurance regulation.

“Since its creation, the FIO has often taken positions in direct contradiction to the views of the state regulators,” Leonardi said. “We are seeing this happen right now in the context of the negotiations around the covered agreement.”

“FIO’s approach is one of ‘we’ll let you know what happens’ as opposed to having the state regulators, that are ultimately responsible for prudential regulation of insurers in this country, actively at the table,” Leonardi said.

State regulators need to be involved in the process, Leonardi said, adding that he supports the Transparent Insurance Standards Act of 2016 (H.R. 5143), a bill endorsed by PIA that sets objectives for U.S. negotiators regarding international insurance standards, grants Congress 90 days to approve or reject proposed agreements, and mandates a public comment period.

“The state regulators regulate 6,600 insurance companies in this country and that is not going away anytime soon,” Leonardi said. “It’s really important that the Fed and FIO not enter into an agreement that is not supported by the state regulators. Otherwise you have chaos.”