As Congress considers financial proposals involving everything from mortgage reform to credit card regulation, it should seek to improve America's international competitiveness by liberalizing property and casualty insurance. A proposal recently introduced in Congress, the Insurance Information Act of 2008 (H.R. 5840), would create a new Office of Insurance Information (OII), which, if enacted as a stopgap measure, and not as a policy end point, would begin the process of removing impediments for U.S. firms to operate in a liberalized national—and ultimately international—environment.
The creation of this office would represent an incremental—though temporary—step in efforts to open America’s insurance markets to greater competition and innovation. This paper briefly outlines the current scope of insurance regulation, describes the functions of the proposed office, and shows how the resulting economic flexibility would improve America’s international competitiveness as financial services become increasingly globalized.