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State insurance regulators, legislators among candidates for FIO, FSOC roles

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State insurance regulators, legislators among candidates for FIO, FSOC roles

Current and former insurance commissioners and a state legislator are among the candidates to fill key regulatory positions, including the directorship of a potentially re-imagined Federal Insurance Office, according to industry and government sources.

In addition to the FIO role, those high-profile positions include the independent member with insurance expertise on the Federal Stability Oversight Council and high-level Treasury Department slots.

Three or four names have consistently emerged in conversations with insurance industry and government sources. One possible candidate for the FSOC position, or a position involving insurance in President Donald Trump's Treasury, is Arkansas state senator Jason Rapert. Rapert is the current vice president of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators and chairs its committee on dialogue with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The term of FSOC's current independent member with expertise in insurance, Roy Woodall, ends Sept. 29. Woodall is the longest-serving voting member on the FSOC and his term cannot be renewed. However, there is a chance that Woodall could be reappointed or that the law could be changed to allow him to carry over his position until a successor fills the role.

FSOC, which is awaiting a decision by a federal appeals court on the overturning of its decision to designate MetLife Inc. a systemically important financial institution, is composed of 10 voting members and five nonvoting members. It is chaired by the secretary of the Treasury.

Howard Mills, former New York Insurance Superintendent under Gov. George Pataki and now global insurance regulatory leader at Deloitte, is also a name being floated for an assistant secretary position at Treasury. According to sources, some in the industry are pushing for a senior Treasury position to be filled with someone with insurance sector experience.

"The idea is to have someone with a senior role with an insurance portfolio at Treasury," one source said. The director of FIO would report to this person, under a concept some in the insurance industry support.

Another potential candidate for a Treasury position, possibly as director of a reconfigured FIO, is current Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak. Doak, one of less than a dozen elected state insurance commissioners, was recently named chair of the NAIC’s prominent Property and Casualty Committee. He is also NAIC's representative to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Through the NAIC, Doak has recently pushed to eliminate FIO, at least in the way it operated during the Obama administration.

Rapert told S&P Global Market Intelligence that he has had no official conversations about specific FIO or FSOC roles.

"I can confirm that I was asked by a Trump transition team member a few weeks ago to forward my background information for possible consideration for an appointment within the administration. I am honored to hear that my name is being discussed and would be happy to discuss the position if called upon," Rapert said in an emailed statement.

In an interview, Doak said that FIO has been of interest to him, and he has been monitoring the office's work since its inception. Doak said U.S. insurance regulation should be handled at the state level, but if there is a continued place for a FIO, it could be as an international affairs-based office that would work on catastrophe response and other insurance issues shared globally. Doak said he would be willing to listen were he offered such a role in the Trump Administration.

"I don't think the FIO office has had the best interest of the United States as their focus," he said.

Doak said he supports Trump's "America First" doctrine and Trump's team's negotiating skills in any international deals. He said he does not think that the recent bilateral "covered" agreement on insurance reached "in the 11th hour" of the Obama Administration between the European Union and the U.S. fits this doctrine.

"I want to make sure that we are thinking of American companies and interests first," in negotiating international deals, Doak said. The covered agreement, announced Jan. 13, is one that should "go back to the drawing board," he said.

Appointments to FSOC and an assistant secretary position at Treasury are not seen as impacted by the hiring freeze executive order signed by President Trump, but industry lawyers believe the position of FIO director, recently vacated by Michael McRaith, would be affected. Should the office be reconfigured, such action would likely have to take place at the legislative level as the FIO was created under the Dodd-Frank Act.