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Federal effort to regulate insurance a bad idea

BY JOHN D. DOAK Published: December 4, 2011

So it's ironic the feds, with their poor regulatory record, decided also to get involved with insurance. Further, it's alarming the FIO was granted new powers to monitor solvency and assess systemic risk in the industry (something states already do), to pre-empt certain state laws, and to label some insurance companies “non-bank financial institutions” subject to oversight by the Federal Reserve.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department operates almost exclusively without funding from taxpayer dollars, and in the coming legislative session we will introduce a bill to cut that taxpayer funding to zero. Conversely, funding this new federal agency will cost American taxpayers, while insurers' costs of complying with a new layer of government will be passed along to American consumers on their premiums.

Proposals to let insurers choose federal chartering over state licensing could strip me of my power to promptly revoke state licensing of suspect agents or companies. Oklahoma consumers will suffer if D.C. is left to investigate insurance fraud or resolve claim disputes.

This year I have met with consumers in all 77 Oklahoma counties, something I plan to do every year in office. Don't hold your breath waiting on Washington to show up in Woodward or Wilburton.

Doak, a Republican, is Oklahoma's insurance commissioner.