The Automotive Service Association (ASA) made the establishment of the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) its top priority during Congress’s consideration of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010. Despite significant opposition, FIO became part of the Dodd-Frank Reform law.
According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, FIO was vested “with the authority to monitor all aspects of the insurance sector, monitor the extent to which traditionally underserved communities and consumers have access to affordable non-health insurance products and to represent the United States on prudential aspects of international insurance matters, including at the International Association of Insurance Supervisors.
“In addition, FIO serves as an advisory member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, assists the secretary with administration of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program and advises the secretary on important national and international insurance matters.”
ASA’s efforts were based on concerns for collision repairers and consumers that had to rely on a 50-state property and casualty insurance based regulatory system. Although FIO has not fulfilled the mission envisioned by the original sponsors of the underlying legislation, the authorized structure for additional regulatory scrutiny and advocacy for repairers and consumers is in place with FIO.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Financial Choice Act on June 8, 2017, which eliminated the FIO. ASA’s Collision Operations Committee (COC) made retaining the FIO its top priority for the 115th Congress.
ASA leaders contacted members of the U.S. Senate to advocate retaining FIO in any final Dodd-Frank Reform package. And ASA’s COC met with FIO leadership at the U.S. Department of Treasury, Senate Banking Committee leadership and other Senate leaders explaining the importance of FIO to collision repairers and consumers.
The Senate Banking Committee responded with a Dodd-Frank Reform markup bill, S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act that excluded the repeal of FIO. The Senate Banking Committee’s package proved to be a critical juncture in determining whether FIO survived or not. After Senate passage and much discussion with the House leadership, the House passed S. 2155 May 22 by a vote of 258-159, leaving FIO in tact.
“This is an example of how collision shops and consumers can make a difference,” Scott Benavidez, COC director from Albuquerque, N.M., commented after the vote. “The House had repealed FIO, long-supported by ASA, and because a number of insurers and agents supported a FIO repeal, many believed that FIO’s days were numbered. [But] FIO has survived. Our goal now is to work to increase FIO’s role in the property and casualty insurance arena.”