Rep. Schock tells agents to fight for flood reform

by R.J. Lehmann on April 26, 2012

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., urged the nation’s largest annual gathering of property and casualty insurance agents to press their U.S. Senate representatives to pass reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program cleared last September by the Senate Banking Committee, National Underwriter is reporting.

Addressing nearly 1,000 members of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s annual convention in Washington, D.C. April 25, Schock told Big I members that the U.S. House has routinely supported reforming the NFIP as part of any long-term reauthorization of the program, and that the time had come for the Senate to “get off their duff and get something done over there.”

Schock’s comments are particularly welcome in that the Big I is the one major insurance trade association that has gone on record as supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s request that, in order to avoid another lapse in the program when it expires May 31, Congress should pass a two-year extension of the NFIP under its current structure. The American Insurance Association and National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (the latter is, like The Heartland Institute, a member of the SmarterSafer Coalition) have argued instead for passing the full package of reforms now, including phasing out subsidized NFIP premiums and opening the program up to private reinsurance.

But it’s worth noting that the independent agents are one of the largest insurance trade associations, with one of the largest political action committees in any industry. Schock noted their influence on Capitol Hill in his address to the group.

“I want to thank you also for your participation with your PAC,” says Schock. “I say that not because it is about me, but because it is about you. The contributions you make to this PAC are really an investment in you and your livelihood. And rest assured, based on the outcomes of these efforts for and against your issues, those who are on the opposite side of your issue are well organized and well funded.

“And so it behooves you to be in this game, to be engaged, to be contributing not only your capital but also your time and energy to make sure that Congress gets these issues right.”

In other news, we are hearing that the bill from Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to extend the flood program through Dec. 31 may get a vote in the Senate the first week of May. Also, there is word that Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., is planning a subcommittee hearing on flood insurance reform that same week, to bring the topic back before senators’ attention.

While some Senate Democrats preferred a shorter extension that would go only through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, most apparently are willing to entertain a longer extension for the opportunity to get a five-year reauthorization with reforms completed in 2012.

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