What Is the Federal Insurance Office (FIO)?

The Federal Insurance Office (FIO) advises the United States Department of Treasury and other agencies within the federal government on insurance matters. It was created after the financial crisis of 2008 to advise on all aspects of the insurance industry. It exists within the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Key Takeaways

  • The Federal Insurance Office (FIO) is a part of the U.S. Department of Treasury and advises the Treasury and other federal agencies on insurance matters.
  • The FIO was created after the financial crisis of 2008 under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
  • The FIO works closely with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), its director is appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, and it serves only in an advisory role without any regulatory authority.
  • Responsibilities of the FIO include monitoring the insurance markets, making sure that affordable insurance products are made available to the entire public, acting in an advisory role to the Financial Stability Oversight Council, and providing its services in administering the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program.

Understanding the Federal Insurance Office (FIO)

The Federal Insurance Office was created in 2010 and was born out of Title V of the Federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The director of the FIO is appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department. The FIO works closely with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The department has no regulatory authority and serves purely in an advisory capacity.

The FIO monitors insurance markets; this includes keeping a close watch on any changes or red flags that could indicate a possibility for catastrophic developments in the financial markets at both a national and state level.

In addition to protecting the financial sector, the FIO is tasked with making sure that affordable insurance products are made available to everyone who wishes to obtain them. This includes communities and populations that may normally be overlooked. The FIO reports its findings and any concerns to the United States Congress through both annual and one-time reporting.

The FIO advises on all forms of insurance except for health insurance and long-term care insurance, except in the event that the long-term care insurance is issued as part of an annuity or life insurance policy.

The FIO also fulfills its advisory role to the Financial Stability Oversight Council and provides its services to the Secretary in administering the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program.

Creation of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO)

During the financial crisis of 2008, some of the largest institutions on the brink of collapse were insurance companies, primarily AIG. Before the crisis, AIG had approximately $1 trillion in assets and lost $99.2 billion in 2008. The government stepped in to bail out the company, whose failure would've had far-reaching and dramatic consequences.

As part of the sweeping reforms of the financial industry that came after the crisis, including the Dodd-Frank Act, the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) was established to monitor the insurance industry.

The Federal Insurance Office (FIO) and the United States Treasury Department

Established in 1789 by the first Congress of the United States, the U.S. Treasury Department is responsible for currency and bonds. It also oversees several different departments, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the secret service, and many others. The main goal of the Treasury Department is to ensure both stability and growth in the nation's economics.

The responsibility of the Treasury extends beyond American soil as well. The Treasury is also responsible for creating sanctions against other nations as they impact the free markets or threaten national security. The Federal Insurance Office (FIO) plays a role in international dealings by representing the United States on insurance matters in the International Association of Insurance Supervisors.

The Treasury Department is overseen by the Treasury Secretary, who is appointed by the President. Alexander Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury Department and was appointed by George Washington on the advice of Robert Morris. The current Secretary of the Treasury is Janet Yellen, the first woman to hold the post. The current Director of the FIO is Steven Seitz.

While the responsibilities of the Treasury Department have changed dramatically since the days that Alexander Hamilton was in charge, the importance of the office has not. Although the income tax is no longer being collected to fund the Civil War, the department still oversees the collection of taxes through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the nation's authority on taxation.