Ten days or so ago, 22 members of the IIAG spent time in Washington, D.C. speaking to our Representatives and Senators about issues that are of importance to Georgia insurance agents. They were part of the annual IIABA National Legislative Conference. Led by the IIAG’s President Bob Monk and Executive Director Aubie Knight these 22 agents listened to speeches and other presentations by important members of Congress and spent time with almost all of Georgia’s Congressmen. Their conversations with Georgia’s Congressmen focused on four main topics: the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act of 2013 (“NARAB II”), the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (“TRIA”), crop insurance, and tax reform.
NARAB II was refiled in March of this year in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate. It had been filed in 2012 (click here for my post about its filing), but because final passage of the Act did not occur before the end of that Congressional session, it had to be refiled this year. Georgia’s David Scott was again a co-sponsor of this legislation in the U.S. House. It seeks to streamline the process of obtaining licenses by non-resident agents and has passed the U.S. House on two prior occasions, only to fail in the Senate. Mr. Knight reports that there are positive signs for its passage by both the House and Senate this time around. For more information on NARAB II, click here.
TRIA was originally passed in 2002 in response to the effect of the events of 9/11 on the insurance markets and was extended in 2006 and again in 2007. It is now set to expire on December 31, 2014. Under TRIA, the federal government acts as the insurer of last resort for losses caused by acts of terrorism. There are significant monetary thresholds that have to be met before the federal government would be responsible for any such losses and if those coverage triggers are met, the federal government can impose surcharges on all commercial insurance policies to help recoup any payments it may have to make. Mr. Knight reports some opposition to the extension of this Act by those who are philosophically opposed to government intervention in support of private businesses. The extension of this Act is a legislative priority for the IIABA and it has created a Terrorism Resource Page where both historical and the most recent information about TRIA can be found. Mr. Knight is not hopeful that anything will be done by Congress until sometime next year and is concerned about possible disruptions in the marketplace as a result.
As far as crop insurance was concerned, Mr. Knight reports that President Bob Monk carried the ball, as he was the only member of the group who had ever written such insurance policies. The focus of the discussion about crop insurance was on the role that the federal government plays in that program, which is similar to but not as significant as the role it plays under TRIA. All the members of Georgia’s Congressional delegation were receptive to the points made by the group’s members about the need for tax reform that benefits small business owners like the members of IIAG.
Mr. Knight encourages all IIAG members to participate in this annual lobbying effort, at least once. Making your voice heard is an important part of the legislative process and the more voices that our Senators and Representatives hear the more likely they are to pay attention to issues that are important to insurance agents.