WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 2, 2009 - The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”), today thanked the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee for passing an extremely important amendment to H.R. 2609, titled the “Federal Insurance Office Act of 2009,” during the committee mark-up of the legislation. The amendment, offered by Capital Markets and Insurance Subcommittee Chairman Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.), and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), passed with strong bipartisan support and clarifies that the definition of “insurer” for mandatory data collection does not include insurance agents and agencies.
“Without this amendment, the newly created Federal Insurance Office (FIO) would have inadvertently had the ability to require countless agents, brokers, and adjusters to produce any data and information that the FIO might demand,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “This amendment is critical to all agents and brokers across the country, and the Big ‘I’ greatly appreciates the hard work of Chairman Kanjorski, Rep. Childers, and Rep. Paulsen.”
The Big “I” also applauded the committee’s other changes to the FIO legislation during the mark-up, especially language in the Chairman’s substitute amendment that explicitly states that neither FIO nor the U.S. Treasury Department has regulatory or supervisory authority over the business of insurance. The Big “I” is encouraged by the progress made in refining the bill and looks forward to working with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee in preparation for consideration by the full House.
The underlying bill would create a Federal Insurance Office within the U.S. Treasury Department to address the following two major areas that have been the focus of criticisms of state insurance regulation:
1. The lack of a knowledge base or informational source in Washington, D.C. (something especially evident following the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina); and
2. The challenges state insurance regulators occasionally face to effectively represent the United States in multilateral insurance discussions or to enter into binding international agreements.
“While the Big ‘I’ believes that the state regulatory system should be preserved and reformed, it has become clear that the state system needs assistance to effectively address the inefficiencies that exist today in the regulation of insurance,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government relations. “The Big ‘I’ has long supported the use of targeted federal legislation to help reform the state system without creating a federal regulator, and we believe H.R. 2609 adheres to these principles.”
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.