The Director of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), Michael McRaith, recently testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance regarding the impact international regulatory standards have on the competitiveness of United States insurers. Citing to the FIO’s 2014 Annual Report, McRaith noted that, in the aggregate, insurers operating in the U.S. continue to show resilience in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. At year-end 2013, the life and health sector reported $335 billion in capital and surplus, and the property and casualty sector reported approximately $665 billion in capital and surplus. McRaith testified that the pace of globalization in insurance markets has “increased exponentially and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.” Due to this global economic growth, many jurisdictions, both developing and well-established, are modernizing insurance supervisory regimes. These jurisdictions include Mexico, Canada, Australia, China, and South Africa.
McRaith cited to a recent agreement among members of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), as publicly described in March 2015, where members agreed on the “ultimate goal” of a single insurance capital standard (ICS) that will include a common methodology by which ICS achieves comparable, i.e., substantially the same, outcomes across jurisdictions. That agreement followed the IAIS October 2014 annual meeting where IAIS adopted an approach to the Basic Capital Requirement (BCR) for globally systemically important insurers. McRaith also noted that the European Commission was recently given the mandate to pursue an agreement with the U.S. to “facilitate trade in reinsurance and related activities” and to “recognize each other’s prudential rules and help supervisors exchange information.” McRaith concluded his testimony by stating that “U.S. insurance authorities are positioned to provide U.S. leadership that complements the shared interest in a well-regulated insurance market that fosters competition, promotes financial stability, and protects consumers.” McRaith’s April 29, 2015, testimony can be found here.