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McRaith Officially Named Head of Federal Insurance Office

As Insurance & Technology reported several days ago, the new regulatory body will be headed by the former Illinois insurance director.

Michael McRaith has been named by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to lead the new Federal Insurance Office, according to published reports. He had been director of the Illinois Department of Insurance.

When McRaith's name first came up in rumors, Insurance & Technology spoke to industry observers who called him a favorable choice. That sentiment doesn't appear to have changed, as the American Council of Life Insurers said in a statement that it "is pleased to learn of the selection."

“ACLI has worked with Mr. McRaith on a variety of issues in his home state and at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). We expect he will serve as capably and professionally as the new director of FIO as he did as Illinois’ top insurance regulator,” ACLI president and CEO Dirk Kempthorne added in the statement.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) also "applauds" the decision, according to a statement.

“We are pleased that the Department of Treasury has listened to the calls from the insurance sector and congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle to fill this critically important position," David Sampson, president and CEO of PCI, continues. "Director McRaith brings extensive experience in the insurance sector and a deep understanding of the state insurance regulatory system.”

PCI also noted in its statement that an insurance-related seat on the Financial Stability Oversight Council remains unfilled. Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association, joined in calling for that position to be filled soon.

“In addition to spearheading the newly established Federal Insurance Office, Mr. McRaith’s appointment fills one of two vacant seats on the Financial Stability Oversight Council," Pusey states. "Having two individuals focused on insurance matters is better than one, but it remains critical that the Administration move to fill the last remaining seat on the Council.”

In March 2009 testimony, McRaith said of federal insurance regulation, "[We] urge caution in any Federal initiative that may jeopardize the State-based platform for such oversight. To be clear, any reforms to functional insurance regulation should start and end with the States. Federal assistance may be necessary if targeted to streamline insurance regulator interaction and coordination with other functional regulators, but that initiative should not supplant or displace the state regulatory system."

This story has been updated from its original version to add additional statements from industry groups.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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