The Effects of an Optional Federal Charter on Competition in the Life Insurance Industry
148 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2007
Date Written: October 24, 2007
In this report we examine the likely effects of an Optional Federal Charter (OFC) regulatory system on competition in the life insurance and annuities industry and related markets. Increasingly, many US insurers advocate the creation of an OFC and the associated regulatory framework for several reasons. Primarily, they believe that the adoption of an OFC would reduce the costs and impediments imposed by the current state-based regulatory system. Further, they believe that the adoption of an OFC structure will facilitate interstate operations and enhance the industry's competitiveness relative to other financial service providers and international insurers. The proposal of an OFC system has generated an intensive debate on a number of issues, including its implications for market competition and the associated effects on consumers. Based on our analysis, we conclude that the life insurance industry is structurally competitive based on its inherent characteristics but that many insurers have not fully achieved maximum efficiency due, at least in part, to the barriers and costs caused by state regulation. Our analysis further leads us to the opinion that the creation of an OFC, properly structured and implemented, would likely increase competition in the US life insurance industry, the broader market for financial services, and international insurance markets.
Keywords: insurance regulation, federal regulation
JEL Classification: G28, L51
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation