WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 17, 2007—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) applauds Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and the other members of the Committee, for passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA) of 2007 and the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act (FIRM) of 2007.
The TRIPRA bill would extend the current federal terrorism insurance backstop, which is set to expire at the end of this year, an additional seven years. In addition, it would modify the definition of terrorism to include domestic acts of terror, and would require ongoing reports to Congress from the President's Working Group on inclusion of coverage for group life and nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological (NBCR) events.
“With the terrorism backstop set to expire, this significant step toward extending it on a long-term basis comes at a critical time,” says Charles E. Symington Jr., Big “I” senior vice president for government affairs and federal relations. ”We applaud the committee for taking action and hope this crucial legislation will gain full Senate approval as soon as possible.”
“Getting this important legislation passed before the end of the year is a priority for our members and we are grateful to the committee for advancing it a step closer,” says Jason Spence, Big “I” assistant vice president for federal government affairs.
The FIRM Act introduced by Chairman Chris Dodd and Ranking Member Shelby would help modernize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It would reauthorize the program through 2013, and contains a provision that forgives the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) $20 billion debt to the U.S. Treasury, both of which the Big “I” strongly supports.
“The Big ‘I’ applauds Chairman Dodd and Ranking Member Shelby for advancing this legislation in the Senate to help reform the flood program, making it more effective for serving consumers,” says Symington. “We also thank them for reauthorizing it through 2013 and adding the key provision of forgiving FEMA’s debt, which are both essential to the future of the National Flood Insurance Program.”
The legislation does not contain two key Big “I”-backed provisions that increase maximum coverage limits and include optional coverages such as optional business interruption coverage and additional living expenses. These have been top priorities for independent insurance agents, brokers and their customers. An increase in coverage limits would allow consumers to better insure against losses due to flooding. An inclusion of additional living expenses and business interruption would help consumers, both residential and commercial, who are hurt by flooding to overcome the uncertainty often experienced immediately after these events.
“Both an increase in the maximum coverage limits and an inclusion of optional coverages would better allow both individuals and commercial businesses to insure against the damages that massive flooding can cause,” says John Prible, Big “I” assistant vice president for federal government affairs. “We hope that the Senate will consider including these provisions as the legislation moves forward.”
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 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.