WASHINGTON (Nov. 5, 2007) – One of Capitol Hill’s premier advocacy programs has had a strong influence on congressional decisions affecting the property/casualty insurance industry this year.
A majority of congressional members have held face-to-face meetings with insurance industry executives from nearly every state through an effort organized by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC). NAMIC’s Congressional Contact Program gives members of Congress an opportunity to hear firsthand the potential effects of specific legislation on their insurance constituents.
This year, NAMIC members held intimate meetings with 70 senators and more than 260 representatives and/or their staffs. The result has been to halt the momentum behind the misguided efforts to alter or repeal the McCarran Ferguson Act. Also, there is increased support for proposals that would allow the insurance industry to remain competitive and provide the best products for consumers.
“CCP is a unique effort that enables NAMIC to deliver its members’ messages on important issues, such as terrorism insurance, insurance regulatory reform, and coastal insurance issues, to individual members of Congress,” said Jimi Grande, NAMIC’s vice president of federal and political affairs. “CCP is a powerful vehicle for NAMIC members to influence decisions on those issues.”
CCP began its 22nd year in 2007 against a backdrop of unprecedented attacks on the insurance industry, beginning with a U.S. senator’s promise to “bring down the insurance industry.” The comment was made by Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., during a phone conversation with NAMIC CEO Chuck Chamness. Lott was joined in his anti-insurance vendetta by fellow Mississippian Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor as well as a handful of other members of Congress.
Hundreds of insurance executives descended on Capitol Hill between March and October to explain how certain proposals would unhinge the effectiveness of the insurance system and harm consumers.
CCP members told their senators and representatives that eliminating the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption would not allow them to accurately price policies and that legislation to do so would reduce competition and increase prices. They helped Congress understand the need to continue the terrorism risk insurance backstop program, with a longer extension, eliminating the distinction between foreign and domestic terrorism, and the folly of trying to include a nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiation (NBCR) provision. They clarified the need to reform the state-based insurance regulatory system but that adding a federal regulator to the scheme – even an optional one – would force many of them out of business by putting them on an unlevel playing field.
“This year has seen a phenomenal demonstration of the commitment NAMIC member company executives have made to get their message across to members of Congress,” said Georgiann Howell, NAMIC’s grassroots communications director. “Legislators need to hear from the people they represent. This is the only way to ensure they are aware of and understand the issues, concerns, and interests of their constituents.”
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