WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 26 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) is praising President Bush’s leadership today after he signed the Terrorism Insurance Act into law, thus establishing a federal backstop for potential future terrorism insurance claims and providing a significant boost to the U.S. economy.
“Everyone from large commercial property owners to mom-and-pop small businesses located near major landmarks or marquee properties are the big winners today,” says IIABA CEO Robert A. Rusbuldt, who attended the White House bill signing ceremony today along with IIABA Senior Vice President of Federal Government Affairs Maria L. Berthoud.
“Numerous clients of independent insurance agents and brokers can breathe easier now that they have access to the terrorism insurance coverage they need to protect their business and their investment,” adds Rusbuldt. “Construction projects on hold throughout this terrorism insurance crisis can now resume—restoring and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs to boost the national economy.”
The Big “I” has been involved since the initial stages of a roller-coaster, 14-month process. IIABA participated in the very first and a number of subsequent White House meetings about the insurance industry, the business community, the economy and the proposed federal backstop after Sept. 11, and helped initiate and drive this legislation forward on Capitol Hill.
During its more than one-year trek through the halls of Congress, the Big “I” fought to keep the bill alive when it faced defeat on several occasions, and met with conferees and key congressional staff to work out differences while the legislation lingered in a conference committee during the past few months.
“This was an arduous process with an advantageous ending for business owners, workers and the entire country,” says Berthoud. “People rather than politics are served.”
Berthoud adds, “It was essential that Congress act to provide some form of a safety net to protect carriers from potential future losses resulting from a terrorist attack that could bankrupt them and harm the economy. The economy will be boosted through this legislation. The President exhibited extraordinary leadership and members of Congress proved they can indeed work productively together to lift a heavy burden affecting millions of Americans, both as individuals and as job providers.”
Rusbuldt and Berthoud credit not only the resiliency of President Bush for keeping the legislation alive, but also the dedicated work of Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) and other key congressional members to keep the bill moving forward.
“IIABA worked closely with the Administration, Sen. Dodd, Chairman Oxley and many others by stressing that the lack of affordable terrorism insurance has been an unnecessary drag on the economy,” says Rusbuldt. “The President himself repeatedly stressed this legislation was a ‘jobs’ bill, emphasizing that 300,000 jobs were at stake and more than $15 billion in real estate projects were stalled or canceled due to the unavailability of terrorism insurance.
“This legislation is not perfect, but it is a bipartisan compromise that serves an important need of our country at a critical juncture. While there are now some implementation issues that need to be worked out with the regulators, the positive impact this bill will have on the economy should not be underestimated,” Rusbuldt says.
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—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.