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Professional Insurance Agents Oppose Provision in Financial CHOICE Act That Could Lead to a Federal Insurance Czar

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents has sent a letter to Jeb Hensarling, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, expressing concerns about the creation of a new federal office called the Office of the Independent Insurance Advocate within the Treasury Department...
April 24, 2017

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) has sent a letter to Jeb Hensarling, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, expressing concerns about the creation of a new federal office called the Office of the Independent Insurance Advocate within the Treasury Department.

Ironically, the new federal office with greatly expanded powers would be created by a provision included in the Financial Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers, and Entrepreneurs (CHOICE) Act—legislation intended to reduce, not increase, federal encroachment resulting from the Dodd-Frank Act.

“This provision of the Financial Choice Act runs completely counter to the intent of Dodd-Frank reform by creating a new, expansive and unnecessary federal insurance bureaucracy with the potential to grow,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “The Independent Insurance Advocate could lead to a federal insurance czar with no supervision, who would be positioned to usurp our strong and effective system of state insurance regulation.”

“Congress has a mandate to rein in federal bureaucracies—not create new ones,” Becker said. “We call on lawmakers to remove this provision from the Financial CHOICE Act. PIA opposes the creation of an Office of the Independent Insurance Advocate”

The language in question merges the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) with the independent member with insurance expertise on the Financial Stability Oversight Council to create the Office of Independent Insurance Advocate. PIA and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) have both already called for the complete elimination of the FIO, because it is unnecessary.

The director of the new office would be a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee with a six-year term. The new office would have its own budget and would be able to hire its own employees, including attorneys, analysts, and economists.

Although housed in the Treasury Department, the bill has language prohibiting the Secretary of the Treasury from taking action to “delay or prevent the issuance of any rule or the promulgation of any regulation by the Independent Insurance Advocate,” and prohibiting the Treasury Secretary from intervening “in any matter.”

“We are struck by how powerful this position would be,” said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile. “This office could potentially grow in a manner that would lead to a federal regulatory bureaucracy.”

PIA announced plans to conduct a nationwide grassroots campaign urging Congress to both repeal the Federal Insurance Office, and prevent creation of an Office of the Independent Insurance Advocate. PIA is currently the only national association publicly advocating against the creation of this new insurance office.

Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM.PIA’s web address is www.pianet.com.

PIA National Testimony to the House Committee on Financial Services

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