(WASHINGTON - Jan. 26, 2009) — The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) today released the text of the following letter to President Barack Obama.
January 23, 2009
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear President Obama:
On behalf of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) and our over 300,000 small business members and their employees, we want to congratulate you on becoming the 44th President of the United States. We look forward to working with you and your Administration on the important issues facing our nation.
The economic crisis has quickly spread beyond Wall Street and now affects nearly every American business. IIABA represents independent small business owners whose homes and businesses are on Main Streets across America, and they have seen firsthand the far-reaching effects of the crisis. Our members are leaders and representatives of the communities in which they reside, and as such, we pledge to work with you and your Administration to take whatever steps necessary to resolve the ongoing financial crisis.
We applaud you for making efforts to solve this crisis and to modernize the financial services industry’s regulatory system a priority of your Administration, and we agree with you that the 111th Congress must begin this hard task of reform. IIABA believes that any financial services regulatory reform efforts must comport with two basic tenets. First, the Administration and Congress should attempt to fix only those components of the regulatory system that are broken, and second, no actions should be taken that would in any way jeopardize the protection of the consumer. We have long held these beliefs and have shared these tenets publicly with Congress during congressional testimony.
As you begin this process, we believe that it is important to note that there are areas where existing regulatory structures have and continue to work well for both consumers and businesses. Specifically, the state-based system of insurance regulation has served both policyholders and the insurance industry well for over 100 years. State insurance regulators actively monitor insurance entities for potential financial trouble and have many different tools to help insurers navigate adverse market developments. In addition, the state system utilizes a very effective safety net, the state guaranty fund mechanism, to protect consumers in the rare case of insurer insolvency.
Even the failure of AIG, whose collapse emanated from its Financial Products division not its insurance operations, highlights the strength of the insurance regulatory system. Throughout the collapse and federal rescue of this large financial services holding company, AIG’s insurance subsidiaries have been consistently hailed as healthy and stable. These state-regulated insurance entities continue to pay claims to consumers, which is the strongest testament yet to the strength of insurance regulatory system.
We therefore strongly encourage you to preserve the state system of insurance regulation as you engage in your financial services regulatory reform efforts. Many lessons can be learned from the current economic crisis, but one of the most significant points is that the paramount responsibilities of any financial services regulator should be both the protection of the consumer and the solvency of the institution. While in definite need of targeted regulatory reforms to enhance uniformity and efficiency, state regulation of insurance has excelled at these two primary responsibilities, and we want to ensure that this fact is not lost in the overall debate on financial services regulatory reform.
Congratulations again on becoming the 44th President of the United States. IIABA, the Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois, our entire national membership, and our staff stand ready to work with you on any endeavors undertaken by your Administration, but particularly on those that affect the insurance market, small businesses, and the work of independent insurance agents. Please do not hesitate to call on us if we can be of any assistance.
Robert A. Rusbuldt
President & CEO
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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, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.
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