Waters Statement on Insurance Modernization Report
Washington, DC, February 4, 2014
At today’s hearing to review the Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office’s (FIO) Report on Modernizing Insurance Regulation, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, applauded the Office for its efforts to oversee the insurance marketplace and protect consumers. She also called for improved access to insurance in underserved communities, and noted the importance of renewing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which is set to expire at the end of this year.
Her full remarks are below.
As prepared for delivery:
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I welcome all of our witnesses to today’s hearing.
Today, this Committee will discuss the insurance industry – a sector critical to our economy and our way of life. In fact, the United States has the largest national insurance market in the world. In 2012, premiums in two critical insurance sectors – life and health – and property and casualty – totaled more than $1.1 trillion. That accounts for approximately 7 percent of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
In addition, the insurance industry plays a significant role in our job market, currently employing about 2.3 million Americans. We cannot underestimate the significance of changes to international insurance regulation. Even small changes can have a significant impact on American jobs, consumers, our economy and global presence.
With this in mind, Congress created the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) to coordinate federal efforts and develop federal policy on prudential aspects of international insurance matters. Among other responsibilities, FIO is tasked with assisting the Treasury Secretary in administering the Terrorism Insurance Program. While not the subject of today’s hearing, I want to reiterate the widespread support amongst Democratic members of this committee – for the quick, clean and long term reauthorization of TRIA. I call on my Republican colleagues to consider the impact that unnecessary delays or significant changes to the TRIA program will have on U.S. jobs, development, and our economy.
I applaud the Department of Treasury and particularly FIO for the release of this important modernization report. It analyzes the current framework for the U.S. insurance regulatory system and provides recommendations for improvement and modernization. The report notes areas where states can work to improve uniformity – and addresses the limitations of state law. It also identifies opportunities for a federal role – in areas where states cannot make necessary improvements.
I especially want to thank FIO for the recommendations on marketplace oversight and consumer protections. While there’s no question that more can be done to improve access in underserved communities – particularly minority and low-income communities – I see this report as an important first step.
I know I speak for my colleagues when I say that we are ready to work with FIO, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and the insurance industry to ensure all families benefit from the protections and opportunities afforded by insurance.
Thank you and I look forward to your testimony.