FLOOD INSURANCE ENACTMENT IS BIG WIN FOR CONSUMERS & THE BIG “I”
Association lobbied Congress incessantly to ensure renewal, reform of program
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) today hailed President Bush’s signature of the Flood Insurance Reform Act (S. 2238), with IIABA CEO Bob Rusbuldt calling the reform measure “a new era for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).”
The new law extends the NFIP through September 2008 and establishes a pilot mitigation program that will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to target repetitive flood-loss properties. This mitigation provision is crucial because it will prevent abuse of the system and save taxpayers, who foot the bill for the flood insurance program, a significant amount of money.
For the past year the Big “I” has worked with congressional lawmakers for renewal of the program, which covers more than 4.4 million homeowners nationwide, before its expiration on June 30. The program lapsed previously, leaving homeowners confused and potentially without coverage. With the bill now passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law, the ability of homeowners and business owners to acquire flood insurance will continue unabated.
The Big “I” worked closely with leading Senate Banking Committee members, including Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Economic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and full committee Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), to get the reauthorization measure approved by the Senate prior to the deadline. Additionally, William G. Bill Stiglitz III, 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 worked closely with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), Insurance Subcommittee Chairman Richard Baker (R-La.), Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.), Housing Subcommittee Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and full committee Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on passage of the original House measure, which was slightly modified by the Senate, and to get the Senate-passed bill through the House on June 21.
“More than a year of hard work and sweat paid off today when President Bush signed this important reauthorization and reform bill,” says Charles E. Symington Jr., Big “I” senior vice president of federal government affairs. “The Big ‘I’ and its members are very happy that this vital public program has been renewed. We are grateful that President Bush supported renewal of the program and signed the measure into law. We express our gratitude to all the congressional leaders who worked together to push this legislation through Capitol Hill and put it on the president’s desk before the program could expire. When this critical program lapsed previously, consumers and the insurance, mortgage and real estate industries faced great uncertainty about what to do if a flood had occurred while the program was in limbo. There will not be a reoccurrence of those circumstances again.”
“We commend President Bush and Congress for renewing this program before the deadline, and we thank Congress for including important provisions, such as the mitigation program, that will save taxpayers millions of dollars,” says Justin Roth, Big “I” vice president of federal government affairs. “We believe this improved program will better serve the needs of everybody involved, including homeowners in flood zones, taxpayers, federal government administrators, and insurance agents and companies who offer flood policies to the public.”
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.