IIABA, Business Leaders Talk with President Bush on Terrorism Coverage

Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) CEO Robert Rusbuldt, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Maria Berthoud and two independent agents, along with business and union leaders, met with President George W. Bush Oct. 3 at the White House to hear the President discuss the immediate need for terrorism insurance legislation.

During the meeting with the IIABA officials and other business leaders, the President reiterated the pressing need for Congressional leaders to unite and pass pending terrorism insurance legislation that would create a federal backstop for future terrorism insurance claims. The President noted that 300,000 jobs are at stake and called upon Congress to send him a bill by the close of business Friday in order to preserve jobs for dedicated American workers.

“The Big ‘I’ is going to continue working closely with the White House and Congressional leaders to make this legislation happen, not only for the benefit of independent insurance agents and brokers but also for the sake of their clients,” Rusbuldt said following the White House meeting. “We have encountered far too many examples of hardworking small and large business owners left high and dry without their basic insurance needs being met. This legislation serves as the ideal solution to a widespread problem.”

IIABA members attending along with Rusbuldt and Berthoud were Michael McCartin, owner of Joseph W. McCartin Insurance, Inc., in College Park, Md.; and Sharon Emek, managing director of New York City operations for insurance broker CBS Coverage Group.

Several of McCartin’s Washington D.C.-area business clients have been adversely affected by the lack of terrorism coverage. Many of Emek’s commercial clients are based in lower Manhattan and northern New Jersey, and a substantial amount of her time is spent trying to help her clients cope with non-renewals and the lack of terrorism insurance.

President Bush urged every business organization in attendance to do everything in its power to help advance this legislation into law. The President reiterated how vital it is for Congress to address the need for terrorism insurance before its likely adjournment in mid-October. More than $15.5 billion worth of construction projects in 17 states have been stalled or canceled due to the unavailability of terrorism insurance, leaving hundreds of thousands of jobs in jeopardy.

“This is clearly an instance where the President indicated the necessity for the private sector to step forward and halt such an unnecessary hindrance to our economy. The President made it clear that he is making terrorism insurance a priority, and IIABA recommitted its support to the President. We will continue to do all that we can to put an end to this nightmare for agents, brokers and their clients,” Berthoud said.