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Professional Insurance Agents to Keep the Heat On Congress in August

WASHINGTON, Thursday, August 5, 2010 - The heat will be on Members of Congress during the month of August as members of the National...
August 5, 2010

Nationwide Grassroots Campaign to Advance PIA Legislative Agenda

WASHINGTON, Thursday, August 5, 2010  - The heat will be on Members of Congress during the month of August as members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) meet with their elected representatives at home in their districts.

For the fifth year in a row, PIA has designed the entire month of August - when Members of Congress are back home - as a time for intensive lobbying of House and Senate members. Dubbed "Capitol Hill in Your Backyard," the month-long effort has as its focal point PIA District Lobbying Day on August 17.

"Everybody knows that Members of Congress escape from Washington, D.C. every August and go back to their districts," said PIA National President Jon D. Spalding. "But there is no escaping the concerns of professional insurance agents across America. We're keeping the heat on Congress by demonstrating to our lawmakers that PIA members - their constituents - are politically aware, active and involved."

PIA's designation of August 17 as PIA District Lobbying Day and the entire month of August as Political Involvement and Advocacy Month extends the reach of the association's federal lobbying efforts. Each spring, 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 the primary issues of focus for the members of the association. And throughout the year, PIA members participate in online grassroots campaigns keyed to the association's legislative positions.

"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. And this year, most of them are also running for re-election. 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."

PIA members will focus on these priorities during their August campaign:

Support of a five year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): Realizing that access to dependable, affordable flood insurance coverage that is not available from the private sector is key to a healthy American economy, PIA supports common sense reforms paired with a long term extension of the NFIP. PIA has endorsed the Flood Insurance Reform and Priorities Act of 2010 (H.R. 5114) and opposes adding wind coverage to the flood program.

Opposition to federal insurance regulation: A major push will be made next year by advocates of federal insurance regulation to get Congress to enact a so-called optional federal insurance charter. PIA is adamantly opposed to optional federal charters and to any federal encroachment on the right of states to regulate insurance. PIA members will remind members of Congress and congressional candidates during August that America's Main Street insurance agents expect them to vote "no" on the so-called optional federal charter - no excuses and no compromises.

Natural catastrophes: PIA supports a coordinated natural disaster catastrophe program that covers commercial and residential property and does not compete with the private sector's capacity to provide insurance. PIA supports legislation to encourage mitigation efforts. PIA favors a comprehensive national approach, however our members believe that natural catastrophe risk should be placed in the insurance market, not on taxpayers.

In addition, PIA members will also focus on antitrust legislation, crop insurance and producer licensing.

Making a Difference

"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 Director of Federal Affairs Mike Becker. "Grassroots involvement by our members is the key to winning on Capitol Hill."

"This has been one of the most challenging Congresses in many years," Brevik said, adding that despite this, PIA member involvement helped make a positive difference in a few areas:

  • State regulation of insurance has been preserved. Even though a Federal Insurance Office (FIO) was created, its preemption authority was reined in and the office was expressly prohibited from regulating insurance.
  • The House passed a five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and action on the bill is pending in the Senate.
  • Language banning agents from selling policies offered by the new health insurance exchanges was removed from the healthcare bill, and replaced with a provision that guarantees that licensed agents can participate.

"Now, agents need to keep the heat on Congress during the August congressional recess," Brevik said.

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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