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Professional Insurance Agents to Hold 2010 Federal Legislative Summit March 17-18

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2010 - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents will bring Main Street to Capitol Hill when they...
March 8, 2010

Summit of Professional Insurance Agents Brings Main Street to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2010  - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents will bring Main Street to Capitol Hill when they convene March 17-18 in Washington, D.C. for their 2010 PIA Federal Legislative Summit.

"This year's summit occurs as many issues with the potential to affect agents' bottom lines are in focus on Capitol Hill," said PIA National President Jon D. Spalding. "We will be meeting with our Members of Congress as they debate regulatory reform, healthcare reform, natural catastrophe policy, flood insurance issues and proposed revisions to the crop insurance industry's Standard Reinsurance Agreement. Our members will be addressing all of these issues with lawmakers."

"Too often, Washington, D.C. can operate in a vacuum," said Spalding. "That's why common sense must be regularly supplied to Capitol Hill by us - Main Street insurance agents who do business with real people, in the real world. The PIA Federal Legislative Summit brings Main Street to Capitol Hill."

Spalding said so far, professional insurance agents have succeeded in reversing attempts to specifically exclude agents from selling health insurance policies under the so-called insurance exchanges that are being proposed as part of healthcare reform. He added that the latest proposal from President Obama - to create a federal bureaucracy to regulate health insurance rates - is counter to PIA's position that the states, not the federal government, should continue to regulate the business of insurance.

"PIA's legislative summit is particularly important this year, because we are working to ensure that the expertise of professional insurance agents will still be available to people needing health insurance," Spalding said. "Our message is that when it comes to healthcare, professional insurance agents are part of the solution, not part of the problem."

The Main Street insurance agents will also remind lawmakers of their steadfast support for state-based regulation of insurance and opposition to federal insurance regulation. "Our message is clear: state regulation of insurance has worked well and any regulatory reforms Congress enacts should build on that state system, not undermine it," said John Lee, co-chair of the PIA National Government Affairs Committee.

The PIA Federal Legislative Summit begins March 17 with an orientation session followed by an in-depth legislative briefing conducted by PIA government affairs staffers, held at the Marriott Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, PIA's headquarters hotel.

On March 18, summit participants will gather for a breakfast program featuring a keynote address by former Congressman Tom Davis (R-Va.).

PIA members then head to the House and Senate for a full day of scheduled meetings with lawmakers in their offices. At day's end, a reception for all summit participants will be followed by the annual fundraising and awards dinner of the PIA Political Action Committee (PIAPAC). Those attending the dinner will hear from Peter Earnest, the founding executive director of the International Spy Museum and a 35-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Earnest will share his experiences as a spy during the Cold War, as well as his thoughts on what makes a person a good spy, why some spies go bad, how spying really works, and other interesting tricks of the trade.

During their Capitol Hill visits, PIA members will also advocate for the creation of a national natural catastrophe plan that supports the availability, affordability and stability of property insurance in catastrophe prone areas, as well as the economic viability of local communities. PIA will also remind members of Congress that failure to keep the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) authorized while reforms are considered risks the stability of the real estate market which, in turn, endangers the nation's economic recovery.

"Access to flood insurance is critical to our nation's economy," said PIA President-elect Brian Marino. "For the past two years, Congress has played Russian roulette with the real estate markets by granting temporary extensions to the flood insurance program that are too short to enable deliberation of comprehensive reforms. In fact, they just allowed the program to lapse for two days. Lawmakers need to extend the program for at least six months, or better yet a year, to give themselves enough time to accomplish true reform."

In addition to legislative meetings on Capitol Hill, PIA members will meet with USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) officials on Friday, March 19 to discuss the federal crop insurance program in greater detail. PIA is concerned about a $4 billion cut that RMA is proposing in the crop insurance industry's Standard Reinsurance Agreement, on top on top of the $6.4 billion cuts contained in the 2008 Farm Bill.

"This is a threat to our nation's farm safety net, a disservice to farmers and an insult to America's crop insurance agents, all in the middle of one of America's worst economic recessions," said Dan Weber, Chair of the PIA National Crop Insurance Working Group. "It also jeopardizes our country's economic recovery."

Founded in 1931, 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(SM). PIA's web address is www.pianet.com.

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