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Big "I" Legislative Conference
Please click the issue topics below for more information. For more detailed information about the specific issues and access to important documents prepared by the Big "I" Government Affairs staff, you must be a member of the Big "I" and logged in for access.
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Agent Licensing Reform
In 2015, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to establish the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB) and help alleviate the burden that licensing compliance puts on insurance businesses and agents. NARAB is to be overseen by a Board of Directors appointed by the President. However, to date the Board is not yet been established. The Big “I” is working closely with Congress and the Administration to advocate for the Board to be appointed.
The Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) is a public-private partnership that supports the purchase of crop insurance by farmers and ranchers to protect against losses due to natural disasters and single year commodity price declines. Over 12,000 insurance agents service crop insurance policies across the country. The Big “I” supports the FCIP and opposes legislative and regulatory proposals that would increase costs for farmers or weaken the efficient and effective private sector delivery of crop insurance.
In an interconnected world, issues related to the protection of personal information, data breach, data security, and insurance to cover cyber-related incidents are becoming more significant. Cyber issues are important to Big “I” members both as businesses that sell cyber insurance products and as businesses that could be targets of a cyberattack. The Big “I” supports Congressional efforts to explore legislative options to better protect Americans from cyberattacks, while giving cyber insurance products time to develop with market demands.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and youth employment standards affecting employees. The FLSA is enforced by the Department of Labor (DOL). All Big “I” member agencies are impacted in some way by FLSA regulations. Big “I” advocacy in this area focuses on ensuring that federal employment laws and regulations are not overly burdensome for insurance agencies and brokerages—both small and large.
Fiduciary Standards of Care
The Department of Labor (DOL), the Securities and Exchange Commissions (SEC), other federal entities and multiple states are assessing what are the appropriate standards of care as they relate to the sale and servicing of retirement and investment products such as annuities, and in some cases life insurance. Big “I” advocacy in this area focuses on making sure that any laws or regulations are not amorphous, overly broad, redundant or would inappropriately restrict the ability of agents and brokers to serve their clients.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the main source for flood insurance in the U.S. The NFIP makes federally-backed insurance policies available to property owners in over 20,000 communities. The Big “I” works with Congress and the Administration to consider policies that help more Americans obtain flood insurance coverage through the NFIP and private markets. The Big “I' is always advocating to ensure that any changes to the NFIP recognize the important role of agents in helping consumers make informed decisions about the purchase of flood insurance for their homes and businesses.
The Comprehensive Appropriations Act of 2021 was signed into law by President Donald Trump in the final days of 2020. Importantly for insurance agents and brokers, section 202 of the act amends and expands Section 408(b)(2) of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which already requires compensation disclosures relating to retirement plans. This new provision will have a significant impact on health insurance agents, brokers, and consultants because it now requires them to disclose compensation and other information to sponsors of group health plans subject to ERISA. The act also requires health insurers to disclose to individual health insureds the compensation paid to the agent or broker involved in the coverage selection and enrollment. The new requirements will take effect on December 27, 2021. The Big “I' has met with and submitted comments to both HHS and DOL on the requirements. Additionally, the Big “I' has provided a 5-page memo and an educational webinar detailing the requirements.
Insurance Regulatory Reform
Under the McCarran-Ferguson Act, states are the primary regulators of the business of insurance, including independent insurance agents and brokers, but there are many facets of federal law and regulation that can impact the state regulatory system and insurance agents. The Big 'I' remains dedicated to a modernized state-based system of insurance regulation and firmly believes that the attributes of this system dramatically outweigh any perceived inefficiencies. As a result, the Big “I” supports significantly restricting or eliminating the Federal Insurance Office.
More information here about autonomous vehicles, natural disaster insurance, and other issues relevant to the insurance industry.
Congress authorized the use of Risk Retention Groups (RRGs) in the 1980s for the narrow purpose of increasing the supply of commercial liability insurance in response to a specific economic crisis and did not intend for RRGs to be used broadly to insure multiple types of risks. Since then some have advocated for expanding the types of coverages that RRGs can offer beyond commercial liability insurance. Allowing such an expansion would undermine the state regulation of insurance, distort insurance markets by giving certain companies statutory competitive advantages, and put consumers at risk. As such, the Big “I” opposes legislative proposals that would unduly preempt state insurance law and expand the use of RRGs.
In 2017 Congress passed a comprehensive tax reform package. The law is a significant accomplishment for Big “I” members as it lowered tax rates for the 20 percent of Big “I” members that are C-Corps and created a new tax deduction for the 80 percent of Big “I” members that are organized as pass-through entities. Since passage of the law, the Big “I” has aggressively advocated before the Administration to ensure the law is applied appropriately as it relates to insurance agencies and brokerages and will continue to advocate before Congress for some temporary provisions of the law to be made permanent.
The Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIP) was first established in 2002 as a result of 9/11 to assist the insurance market in covering insured losses resulting from acts of terrorism. It has since been reauthorized in 2005, 2007 and in 2015 after a brief lapse. The most recent reauthorization in 2015 extended the program for six years through December 31, 2020. The Big “I” supports the program and will be advocating that Congress reauthorize TRIP during the 116th Congress.