Professional Insurance Agents Win Early Victory on Agent Commissions in Draft NFIP Legislation, Express Optimism in Testimony for Hearing
WASHINGTON — The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA National) is optimistic about four draft bills that were recently released by House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). This draft package was released in advance of a March 13 hearing on NFIP reauthorization [“Preparing for the Storm: Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program”]. PIA National submitted testimony for the hearing.
Each of the released bills pertains to one of four categories: mitigation, mapping, administrative reform, and a foundational bill that reauthorizes the program for five years, forgives the debt, and addresses affordability. The current authorization for the NFIP expires in May.
PIA National has advocated for several provisions included in this package, including a long-term reauthorization, increased investment in mapping and mitigation, the creation of a consumer appeals process of FEMA mapping decisions, and the inclusion of provisions to continue the program’s move toward risk-based rates.
“Perhaps most important for independent agents is what PIA National has successfully prevented from being included in the draft package—a cut to the Write-Your-Own (WYO) reimbursement rate for insurers administering the NFIP,” said Jon Gentile, vice president of government relations of PIA National.
A WYO rate cut could force the WYOs to pass that reduction on to agents through their commissions. In turn, that reduction in agent commissions would likely result in an exodus of qualified independent agents from the NFIP, which would devastate the program. PIA National has consistently been the only independent insurance agent association that opposes a WYO cut.
“While the release of Chairwoman Waters’ draft package is only an initial step toward reauthorizing the NFIP, PIA National views the maintenance of the current WYO rate as an early victory for our unrelenting advocacy on this issue,” Gentile added. “PIA National will remain vigilant on this issue throughout this process.”
PIA National will also continue to encourage Chairwoman Waters to include other important provisions, such as H.R. 1666, the continuous coverage bill introduced earlier this week by Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), in a final NFIP reauthorization bill. A continuous coverage provision would allow consumers who could be left vulnerable if their policies are canceled in the middle of the policy year to go back to the NFIP and purchase a policy at the rate they previously had.
Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes, and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street AmericaSM. PIA’s web address is www.pianet.com.