Senator introduces bill to scrap FIO's subpoena authority

It seeks to counter attempts to "overstep into the state-regulated insurance industry"

Senator introduces bill to scrap FIO's subpoena authority

Insurance News

By Mika Pangilinan

Alabama senator Katie Britt has introduced a new bill that she said would counter recent attempts made by the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) to “overstep into the state-regulated insurance industry.”

The Insurance Data Protection Act, which was co-sponsored by 16 other senators, comes in response to FIO’s proposal to collect data from insurers to evaluate climate risks and assess potential disruptions within the private insurance space.

Britt and her co-sponsors are seeking to target the heart of the issue by eliminating the FIO director’s subpoena authority. They cited the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, pointing to provisions stating that the FIO does not possess general supervisory or regulatory authority over the insurance business.

According to the legislation, the FIO is intended to serve as an informational body and does not need subpoena power.

Specific provisions in the bill include requiring the FIO to collaborate with state insurance regulators on any data collection efforts, in addition to mandating the assessment of publicly available data before collecting data from insurers.

It also outlines strict confidentiality protocols governing the usage of collected data by financial regulators.

Commenting on the bill, Britt criticized how the FIO is “utilizing private insurance data to advance the Biden administration’s leftwing Green New Deal agenda.” 

“This commonsense legislation would ensure the state-regulated insurance market remains strong, prevent redundant and unnecessary data reporting that would needlessly cost millions of dollars, and protect consumers’ sensitive information,” the senator said.

Britt is a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Her co-sponsors include the committee’s ranking member, Tim Scott, as well as other Republican senators.

“As a former insurance agent, I know firsthand the importance of our state-based insurance regulation regime that has resulted in highly competitive and fair markets across the country – addressing local issues with local solutions,” said Scott. “That’s why I’ve been alarmed by the FIO’s efforts to overstep its authority and push the Biden administration’s radical climate agenda.”

Industry bodies voice support for the bill 

Endorsement for the legislation has poured in from a number of industry bodies, including the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), Association for Independent Agents (Big I), and Professional Insurance Agents (PIA).

A statement from NAMIC voiced concern over the FIO’s “insistence on moving forward with an unprecedented and duplicative data collection through its subpoena authority.”

“State regulators have been collecting climate related data for more than a decade and continue to refine those efforts,” said Jimi Grande, NAMIC’s senior vice president of federal and political affairs. “FIO piling on at a time of rising costs due to inflation and climate change only adds to the challenge of ensuring insurance affordability and availability for consumers.”

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