SEC Now Subject to FOIA Requests

Those of us who work in insurance compliance know that what is and is not subject to open government laws regarding the disclosure of information often presents challenges. Both SERFF and the IIPRC have caused significant industry-wide discussions about the appropriate access to policy forms and review correspondence. Public discussion and disclosure is often an issue with respect to exam results and supporting documentation. Now the SEC gets to join the fray.

Mark Schoeff, Jr. reported in InvestmentNews (10/11/10 print edition) that last week President Obama signed a bill that repealed SEC exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act that were in the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform bill. The SEC felt the exemption from FOIA was required in order to reassure regulated entities that information gathered would not be disclosed to competitors - always a concern of insurers as well. But the repeal bill was adopted unanimously by both houses. The article suggests that it is likely this issue will be revisited in the future in order to address SEC concerns that they may be asked to release information to third parties involved in lawsuits, something the Commission does not want to do.

This will be an interesting issue to watch in the coming months.  How this plays out may give some insight into what the FOIA climate may be under any federal insurance regulatory office.