WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan 30, 2014 — The Big “I” applauds today’s U.S. Senate passage of S. 1926, the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013,” by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) in a 67-32 vote.
The Menendez-Isakson bipartisan bill would make changes to the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 (Biggert-Waters) in order to help with the “sticker shock” some consumers are facing as a result of two provisions that create drastic premium increases in many parts of the country.
“The Big ‘I’ is pleased that the Senate has passed this sound piece of legislation that addresses two major legislative priories for the association: flood insurance and agent licensing reform,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “S. 1926 should mitigate some of the harmful effects of Biggert-Waters without undoing the numerous positive provisions within the law. The bill will also provide for streamlined non-resident insurance agent and broker licensing while preserving state insurance regulation and consumer protections.”
FLOOD: The bill would delay implementation of the bought/sold provision from Section 205 and the entirety of Section 207 of Biggert-Waters until after FEMA conducts the “affordability study” as required by the law. S. 1926 would install a procedure for FEMA to issue draft regulations, with affordability in mind, before proceeding with implementation of these two provisions. Currently, Section 205 of Biggert-Waters would immediately eliminate all subsidies, with no phase-out, for properties bought and sold. Section 207 of Biggert-Waters would stop the “grandfathering” of policies located in communities with a new or redrawn map.
“In a big win for independent insurance agents, included in the Menendez-Isakson bill is the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB II) proposal that has been a top priority of the Big ‘I’ for a number of years,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president for external and government affairs. “The Big ‘I’ worked with Sens. Menendez and Isakson, as well as NARAB II’s Senate sponsors Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), in order to insert the NARAB II legislation into the broader flood insurance bill. On behalf of the quarter of a million professionals we represent across the country, we thank the bill sponsors and Senate leadership in both parties for their efforts to make this happen.”
NARAB II would achieve much needed reciprocity in producer licensing and help policyholders by permitting greater competition among agents and brokers. This legislation would build upon regulatory experience at the state level, promote greater consistency in agent and agency licensing, and ease the burden that many agents face in doing business across state lines.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than a quarter of a million 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, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.