WASHINGTON, D.C., March 20, 2007—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) applauds Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) for today’s introduction of six different pieces of legislation aimed at comprehensively addressing hurricane and other natural disaster insurance issues across the nation. Senator Nelson and Martinez each took the lead in sponsoring three bills and serving as the lead cosponsor of the other three.
Senator Nelson’s bills include:
Catastrophe Savings Accounts Act—The measure creates tax-exempt catastrophe savings accounts (CSAs) for consumers and allows for tax-free distributions from CSAs to pay expenses resulting from a presidentially declared major disaster.
Policyholder Disaster Protection Act—The measure allows insurance companies to make tax deductible contributions to a tax-exempt policyholder disaster protection fund specifically for the payment of policyholders' claims arising from certain catastrophic events, such as windstorms, earthquakes, fires, or floods.
Homeowners Protection Act—The measure creates a federal backstop for state natural catastrophe insurance programs to help the United States better prepare for and protect its citizens against the risks of natural catastrophes.
Senator Martinez’s bills include:
The Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act--The measure is aimed specifically at streamlining and reducing barriers in state regulation of nonadmitted insurance and reinsurance. It will create a uniform system, while preserving the role of the state regulator.
The Hurricane and Tornado Mitigation Investment Act—The measure provides a tax credit, equal to 25 percent, of mitigation expenditures. This preventative measure will lessen the impact disasters have on lives and property.
The National Hurricane Research Initiative--This is a ten-year, $4.35 billion dollar initiative to build a foundation for better, more targeted and more coordinated research designed to better research, predict and prepare for hurricanes.
“We are very pleased that Senators Nelson and Martinez have worked together on the introduction of a package of natural disaster insurance bills,” says Charles E. Symington Jr., Big “I” senior vice president for government affairs and federal relations. “Natural disasters are a national problem that requires a national solution, and we fully support Congress considering each of these bills and developing a comprehensive solution to the natural disaster insurance crisis.”
The Big “I” has been a leader in advocating for natural disaster solutions, testifying on several occasions before Congress on the need to address this problem through federal legislation.
“All Americans are impacted by natural disasters as consumers and taxpayers, and it is crucial that we develop a solution to this growing problem” says John Prible, Big “I” assistant vice president for federal government affairs. “We urge the public and private sectors to come together to find a common solution that will serve consumers and protect taxpayers. This package of bills introduced by Senators Nelson and Martinez is a positive step in the direction of finding that solution.”
Founded in 1896, IIABA (the Big “I”) 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.