BIG “I” HAILS SENATE PASSAGE OF FLOOD INSURANCE BILL
Association pushed hard for renewal of vital program; now urging House to act promptly
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (The Big “I”) today hailed the Senate’s passage last night of the Flood Insurance Reform Act (S. 2238), a bill to renew the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 2009.
The bill, in addition to renewing the program, also establishes a pilot program that will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to target repetitive flood-loss properties for mitigation. This provision is crucial to independent agents and brokers who sell flood insurance, and also to consumers and taxpayers, because it will prevent abuse of the system.
The Big “I” has pushed strongly for renewal of the program, which covers 4.4 million homeowners nationwide, before its expiration date of June 30. The program lapsed previously, leaving millions of homeowners uncovered, and the association does not want to see that happen again.
The Big “I” worked closely with leading Senate Banking Committee members, including Economic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and the full committee’s Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), to get reauthorization passed prior to the deadline. Bill Stiglitz, a Big “I” elected officer and an agent with Hyland, Block, Hyland Insurance of Louisville, Ky., testified before the subcommittee March 25 on the importance of renewal. The Big “I” also lobbied intensively to bring about this result.
“We are very pleased that the Senate has taken this much-needed action to renew this program,” says Charles E. Symington Jr., Big “I” senior vice president for federal government affairs. “We are grateful to Chairman Shelby, Subcommittee Chairman Bunning and Ranking Member Sarbanes for their hard work in getting the Senate to act on this bill before the program’s expiration.”
In addition to working with the Senate, the Big “I” also worked very closely with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), subcommittee Chairman Richard Baker (R-La.) and Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.) on the House version of the bill that was passed Nov. 20. That bill, the Flood Insurance Reform Act (H.R. 253), formed the cornerstone of the Senate bill, which differs slightly with the House bill. To avoid a conference committee, the Senate version is expected now to go back to the House for passage.
The Big “I” strongly urges the House to take action on this bill promptly, or the program will expire two weeks from today. In 2002, Congress adjourned without reauthorizing this vital program, leaving it in limbo for part of January 2003. Action is needed now to ensure this does not happen again.
“Industry and consumers faced uncertainty when the program lapsed, because they did not know if or when the program would be reauthorized, or what they should do in the meantime. Those two weeks of uncertainty caused a great deal of concern in the marketplace, and Congress should not let that happen again,” says Justin Roth, Big “I” vice president of federal government affairs.
Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life and health—employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.