IIAG leaders joined over 1,000 Independent Insurance Agents from across the nation at the IIABA National Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. last week. Over 20 Georgia agents met with our Congressional delegation and their staff to advocate for our industry and your clients. The Big "I" is the strongest voice for Independent Insurance Agents, and together we made a difference on the following issues:
We lobbied for a 10-year reauthorization of a reformed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) before it expires on September 30th. Some of the reforms that are being considered include increased use of mitigation practices, updated mapping technologies and the purchase of reinsurance to spread taxpayer risk. We also shared our support for a bill that would allow private flood policies to satisfy the mandatory purchase requirement for flood insurance without jeopardizing NFIP grandfathering provisions.
Did you know there has been considerable discussion in Congress on the role of agents and their compensation levels in the NFIP? We explained how time intensive and complicated the program is to sell and how critical our agents are in the process. The Big "I" is working to protect your commissions.
On the day that we met with our Congressional delegation, the U.S. House passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In fact, some of our members were on the floor of the House with Congressman Rob Woodall when this historic vote took place.
We urged Congress to protect the employer sponsored health care system in any reforms being considered. We asked them to repeal the 'Cadillac tax," which would be accomplished if AHCA is passed. The 'Cadillac tax' assesses a damaging 40% tax on health plans that exceed a fixed annual cost which is expected to be less than $11,000 per year for an individual when the law goes into effect on 2020.
We lobbied against the idea that is being considered in Congress to tax employees on the now tax exempt cost of their health benefits if the benefits exceed a certain threshold set by Congress. This proposal would have a similar effect as the 'Cadillac tax' to discourage employers to offer health plans to their employees.
We urged our legislators to reform small business and individual rates along with corporate rates in tax reform efforts. Since the majority of independent agencies are small business pass-through entities (subchapter S corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships) that file at individual rates, by reforming only corporate rates would further create an uneven playing field for our members.
Insurance Regulatory Reform
We shared how the Big I remains dedicated to preserving the state-based system of insurance regulation. We asked our Congressional delegation to significantly restrict or eliminate the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), which was created by the Dodd-Frank financial services reform law. FIO has proven to have questionable value for the insurance market and consumers and could evolve into a regulatory force on the federal level.
IIABW continued to lobby our Congressional delegation against any attempts to cut or cap premium incentives on the Crop Insurance Program in the 2018 Farm bill. We also advocated for assurances that the private sector will remain the primary distribution force of the flood program.