Leonardi cool on federal regulation of insurance industry

Connecticut's insurance commissioner told members of Congress Tuesday he has serious reservations about extending federal oversight of the insurance industry.

Thomas Leonardi, commissioner of Connecticut’s Insurance Department, was invited by a Republican member of the House Financial Services Committee to weigh in on new federal  oversight of the insurance industry, which is largely regulated by the states.

At issue is the new Federal Insurance Office that was created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill and tasked to report on weaknesses in the insurance industry.

Leonardi, invited to testify at a Finance Committee hearing on insurance by Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, said several  FIO recommendations “give me serious pause.”

Leonardi said he’s opposed to allowing the FIO  to participate in meetings between state regulators and insurers that involve “confidential, company-specific information.”

Leonardi also said he’s opposed to federal regulation of the troubled mortgage insurance industry.

“State regulators have the most experience and expertise to effectively regulate these insurers,” he said.

“A strong regulatory framework is already in place to monitor the activity of mortgage insurers, and efforts are under way to strengthen it.”

Leonardi also took the opportunity to give a shout out to Gov. Dannel Malloy “for his unfailing support for me and my department” and to Hartford.

“Hartford has been fondly called the Insurance Capital of the World for two centuries,” Leonardi said.

About Ana Radelat

Ana is a longtime Washington correspondent who has won numerous awards, including from The Associated Press and Gannett, has written for more than a dozen newspapers, including USAToday; The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger; the Shreveport (La.) Times; and the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. She’s also been a regular contributor to other publications, including the Miami Herald and Advertising Age. Some of the stories Ana has broken focused on the strategies of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former Sen. Trent Lott’s fall from power and questionable Hurricane Katrina contracts. A regular contributor to WNPR, Connecticut Public Radio, a partner of The Mirror, Ana is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism. E-mail her at aradelat@ctmirror.org.