WASHINGTON, D.C., May 13, 2008—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 Senate, for passing the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act (FIRM) of 2008.
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.
“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 in serving consumers,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president for government affairs. “We also recognize the importance of reauthorizing it through 2013 and adding the provision of forgiving FEMA’s debt, which is essential to the future of the National Flood Insurance Program and flood insurance consumers.”
The Senate-passed FIRM Act also includes a provision that would create a Commission on Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Insurance, a bipartisan group that would examine natural disaster risks and report back to Congress with recommended possible solutions for this serious problem.
“We support the Senate’s efforts to address the crucial issue of national catastrophe insurance,” says Symington. “As the conduit between consumers and insurance companies, our membership has long advocated that Congress develop a national solution to this national problem. We see the Commission created by this legislation as a critical first step toward that goal.”
The Senate legislation does not contain two key Big “I”-backed provisions: increasing maximum coverage limits and including optional coverages such as business interruption coverage and additional living expenses. 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 House and Senate will consider including these provisions as the legislation moves forward in a Conference Committee.”
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.