WASHINGTON (March 17, 2008) – Hundreds of members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will meet with their constituents in the insurance industry, as the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies’ (NAMIC) Congressional Contact Program gets underway next month. Representatives of NAMIC member companies from New York will be the first delegation on Capitol Hill this year.”
“CCP is a unique grassroots lobbying effort that allows representatives from NAMIC’s 1,400 member companies to deliver messages directly to their legislators in Washington,” said Jimi Grande, NAMIC’s vice president for federal and political affairs. “The program enables NAMIC members to have a greater impact on legislation affecting them by educating and developing relationships with members of Congress.”
Topping the list of federal issues for NAMIC members to discuss with lawmakers this year are flood reform, building code enhancements, affordability and availability insurance issues on America’s coasts, and reforms to the state regulatory system. The issues were identified as the association’s top federal legislative priorities for 2008 by NAMIC’s Federal Affairs Committee earlier this year.
Despite the dominance of the elections, there are several meaningful reforms that Congress must pass in 2008, Grande explained, including the impending expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program in September. “It is imperative that Congress take action to prevent this vital federal program from sunsetting. This program is simply too important to Americans who live in flood-prone areas for there to be no action this year,” Grande said. “It’s also important that Congress pass needed reforms to address the $18 billion debt and outdated flood maps. Mitigation efforts must also be part of the reform.”
The House has passed flood reform legislation, and the Senate is considering a separate measure. “While we support most of the reforms included in the House version, we strongly oppose a provision that would include wind coverage in the NFIP,” Grande said. “The private insurance market is more than capable of handling wind coverage.Adding an additional peril to the NFIP would only drive the program further into debt.”
NAMIC will also continue to promote legislation to provide for stronger building codes throughout the nation. “Building safe and secure structures is the easiest, most cost-effective way to prevent injuries and losses from natural disasters,” Grande said. “The insurance industry is united in its support of this issue. As the leader of the Building Codes Coalition, NAMIC will work vigorously to see building code legislation move through the political process.”
NAMIC will also continue its nationwide grassroots effort to explain the importance of, and repel any further efforts to repeal the limited antitrust exemption in the McCarran Ferguson Act. “Any attempts to repeal the narrow exemption are misguided and would only serve to confuse and harm consumers,” Grande said.
Reforms to the state-based regulatory system for insurance is an issue NAMIC will address on both the state and federal levels. “Congress can play a role in helping to streamline the state regulatory system by establishing national standards for regulating surplus lines or nonadmitted insurance,” Grande said. “NAMIC will work with and educate lawmakers on the need to help modernize the insurance regulatory system through national uniformity tools.”
More than 330 CCP participants from 35 states held face-to-face meetings with more than 340 members of Congress and/or their staffs last year, and this year promises to bring even more NAMIC members to Capitol Hill. NAMIC anticipates members from 37 states to visit Capitol Hill this legislative session.
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Posted: Monday, March 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM. Modified: Monday, March 17, 2008 7:25:24 PM.
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