Why Independent Agents Went to Capitol Hill to Lobby

By | May 12, 2016

Independent insurance agents and brokers from all 50 states convened in Washington, D.C., last month for the Big “I” Legislative Conference. Our members met with almost every U.S. Senate and House office to discuss the association’s top legislative priorities. Here’s why.

We support a reformed and modernized National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and called upon Congress to extend the NFIP prior to its Sept. 30, 2017 expiration. We urge consideration of modernized mapping technologies; increased use of private reinsurance; reforms to incentivize mitigation efforts and consideration of risk-based rates, where appropriate.

The private market should act as a complement, but not a replacement to the NFIP and therefore we support S. 1679 and H.R. 2901, the “Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act,” by Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and Reps. Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL). The legislation strikes a balance between private market involvement and the flood program, clarifies that a private policy can satisfy the mandatory purchase requirement, and ensures that policyholders can move seamlessly between the private market and the NFIP and not lose their grandfathered status.

We strongly support the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) and agents as the sole sales force of the program. The Big “I” opposes reopening the Farm Bill to cut the budget baseline for the FCIP and opposes S. 2244 and H.R. 3973, the “AFFIRM Act,” which would result in cuts to private sector delivery of crop insurance and would discourage farmers from purchasing adequate coverage for their farmland.

Bob Rusbuldt
Bob Rusbuldt

The Affordable Care Act’s misguided “Cadillac tax” assesses a damaging 40 percent tax on health plans that exceed a fixed annual cost. At the end of 2015, with Big “I” support, a two-year delay of the “Cadillac tax” was enacted to move the effective date of the tax from 2018 to 2020. The delay was a good first step, but the Big “I” will continue to fight for full repeal.

We also support excluding agent compensation from the ACA’s Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) formula. We support S. 1661, the “Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors Act,” by Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Chris Coons (D-DE), and its House companion, H.R. 815, the “Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act,” by Reps. Billy Long (R-MO) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR).

We staunchly support state regulation of insurance and are concerned with federal encroachment. Big “I” agents went to Capitol Hill in support of S. 1086, the “International Insurance Capital Standards Accountability Act,” by Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jon Tester (D-MT), and H.R. 2141, the “International Insurance Standards Transparency and Policyholder Protection Act,” by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI).

We are concerned that a Department of Labor proposal regarding overtime requirements for “white collar” workers will be overly burdensome for small businesses including thousands of Big “I” members and their customers. We advocated for S. 2707 and H.R. 4773, the “Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act,” by Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and John Kline (R-MN), which would halt the proposal. We also hope Congress will reverse or amend the DOL regulation to expand the application of the ERISA “fiduciary” standard which threatens to harm investors and limit consumer access to professional advice.

Although the work continues, another successful Big “I” Legislative Conference is in the books.

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