Washington, D.C. – With a packed attendance for the Thursday morning breakfast session, independent agents at the 28th Annual Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers’ 2004 National Legislative Conference, heard from a pair of speakers – Louisiana Congressman Richard Baker (R) and Virginia Senator George Allen (R).
Baker, who has been at the forefront of insurance regulatory reform, introduced along with House Banking Committee Chairman Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, told the agents that there would be no federal regulator on K Street for insurance. He did, however, say that a balancing act is needed to provide the best opportunities for both agents and consumers.
“Something has to be done about having 56 different sets of regulatory institutions,” Baker said. “For example, one state requires a stapled copy approval. Then you have a cover sheet in pink versus other states that are exclusively white. South Carolina, meantime, prohibits the use of parenthesis,” noting all the different challenges insurance professionals face from state to state.
Noting nothing moves without insurance, Baker commented much to the delight of the crowd, “I buy my agent, I don’t buy the policy.”
Baker added that the proposal in front of the industry has to be a pretty good one because everyone finds something wrong. “Our effort is a critical balancing act driven by your customers,” he said. “We may not get things right, but it doesn’t mean we’re not attentive to your concerns.”
Baker was followed by Sen. Allen, who noted that there would be an asbestos reform vote today in Washington, adding, “Far too much of the costs are not going to asbestos victims, but to legal fees.”
Allen was also hopeful that lawmakers would get back to class action reform, hopefully having a crack at it by the end of May.
Changing gears to address a number of senate races nationwide, Allen stated that independent agents are “some of the best campaign folks out there. You are leaders in a variety of fields,” he added.
Senate seats are up for grabs in a number of states with several senators not seeking new terms, including senators in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
The National Legislative Conference continues on Friday with a visit from Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank (D).