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Professional Insurance Agents to Lobby Members of Congress in August

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2006 - The heat will be on Members of Congress during the month of August. The National Association of Professional...
July 11, 2006

Nationwide In-District Campaign Designed to Advance PIA Legislative Agenda, "Keep the Heat On"

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2006  - The heat will be on Members of Congress during the month of August. The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) has declared August 9 as PIA District Lobbying Day and the entire month of August as Political Involvement and Advocacy Month.

The association is asking each of its members to make an effort to engage their elected officials and Congressional candidates, in order to promote the points of view of Professional Insurance Agents and to forge relationships with those who will serve them in Washington, DC.

"Everybody knows that Members of Congress escape from Washington, D.C. every August and go back to their districts," said PIA National President Ray Peretti. "We are extending PIA's contacts with our elected representatives -- and with the candidates who aspire to represent us -- to include political advocacy in August."

"We're keeping the heat on regarding PIA's issues, and also demonstrating that PIA members are politically active constituents in the broader issues involving their Congressional Districts and states," Peretti said.

PIA's designation of August 9 as PIA District Lobbying Day and the entire month of August as Political Involvement and Advocacy Month extends the association's federal lobbying. Each year, professional insurance agents visit Capitol Hill for meetings with their elected representatives during PIA's annual Federal Legislative Summit, during which agents concentrate their efforts on what they see as the primary issues of focus for the members of the association.

"The conventional wisdom is that nothing happens in Congress during the month of August, but that's wrong," said PIA Executive Vice President & CEO Len Brevik. "Members of Congress are holding town hall meetings and other events in their districts, to gauge how their constituents feel about legislation. Far from being 'dead time,' the month of August is prime time for Main Street insurance agents to advance their agenda in a very effective way."

This laser-like focus will continue throughout the month of August. PIA members will focus on these priorities:

  • Opposition to bills calling for optional federal charters for insurers. PIA is adamantly opposed to any bill calling for an OFC, including S. 2509, the National Insurance Act of 2006. PIA believes the concept of an optional federal charter, rather than streamlining insurance regulation as its advocates claim, would actually create an additional, federal layer of bureaucracy that would add costs and confusion to consumers, and open the floodgates of litigation due to the conflicts it would create with existing law.
  • Support for a comprehensive national natural catastrophe plan. PIA has called on Congress to adopt and fund a coordinated natural disaster catastrophe program that places first priority on the obligation of governments to protect their citizens through effective and funded mitigation. Such a program should be designed as a public-private collaborative effort. It should include prorated participation by states and local governments, together with all sectors of the financial services industry, in the creation of a backstop for natural catastrophes. A special PIA Natural Catastrophe Task Force is currently reviewing various bills filed in Congress that address the issue.
  • Keeping a transformed federal funding backstop in place for insuring against terrorism risk. PIA was a leader in the effort to craft and pass the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and successfully campaigned for an extension of TRIA in 2005. With the program set to sunset in December 2007, PIA supports the creation of a permanent mechanism for terrorism coverage in order to ensure the continued viability of the existing domestic insurance market.

In addition, PIA members will discuss priorities relating to crop insurance and flood insurance during their meetings.

For those PIA members who are unable to schedule an in-person visit with their representatives or senators, or staff members in their offices, PIA National's Online Grassroots Action Center will enable agents to send a message showing their support for issues of paramount concern to professional independent insurance agents.

"The more PIA members get to know and speak with their elected officials and become part of the political process, the better agents will fare in legislation that could have dramatic consequences on their businesses and their lives," said PIA National Senior Vice President Patricia A. Borowski. "The more PIA members provide lawmakers and aspiring lawmakers with real world examples of how their businesses and customers will fare better under the kind of legislation they'd like to see - and the negative effects of bills that we don't want them to pass - the better the chance that when it comes time for them to vote, they will see things from PIA's point of view."

Founded in 1931, and celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2006, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America. PIA's website is www.PIANET.com.

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