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PIA Members Hold Annual Summit on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2005 - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) from across the country lobbied for quick passage of a...
April 14, 2005

Local Insurance Agents Lobby for Passage of TRIA During Congressional Visits

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2005 - Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) from across the country lobbied for quick passage of a two year extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) during the group's annual Federal Legislative Summit held April 7 in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, (R-Alabama), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, was the keynote speaker at the FLS kickoff breakfast. Rep. Bachus said that the Financial Services Committee is prepared to move on extending TRIA as soon as the Treasury finishes its report on the usefulness of the current legislation. That report is expected by the end of June at the latest. "We will move on that [legislation]," Rep. Bachus said. "Hopefully, it will be a good report," he added.

"It is impossible for you to assess the risk and calculate the premium on terrorism exposures without the TRIA backstop," Rep. Bachus told the agents. "I know you're already setting your premiums to insure people through 2006 and 2007, so you need it now." Bachus said TRIA renewal legislation likely wouldn't move until after Congress is presented with a report on the matter from the U.S. Treasury Department, which is due in June.

PIA lobbyist Peter Bizzozero said it was crucial that PIA members press for passage of TRIA now. "We can't wait for that report," Bizzozero said. "The report might be good for us or it might be bad for us, but we need to press our case now. Congress has shown it can move quickly in response to a crisis, but we need them to move before there is another crisis. We can't let it get to that."

"Professional insurance agents are the basis of communities," said Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski (D-Pennsylvania), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises, speaking at a PIA reception. "As you know there is tremendous transition in financial services, but I'm one that wants to preserve the independent insurance agent because long-term, if we don't have these types of individuals - small businessmen located in middle sized and small communities - we're going to lose the benefit of community development in the United States. That would be a great loss and it could disappear without our realizing it."

PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Len Brevik said the turnout for the annual legislative event was the largest in at least five years and was evidence of a revitalized PIA. Brevik said PIA has seen a significant interest from agents wanting to join PIA in recent months - due in part to heightened concern about compensation and disclosure issues in the wake of investigations of mega-brokers by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. He said PIA has gained hundreds of new members since the Spitzer investigation began and the increase in membership is continuing.

"PIA is an association that represents professional insurance agents," said Brevik.  "We're members of the small business community. Since all politics are local, Congress knows that every local community is home to an independent insurance agent. We are in every town in America."

"It is important that while we are here, we speak truth to power," Brevik said. "That is our only mission here. We need to be proud that we offer choice to consumers - and we must remember that choice is not a conflict. Some consumer activists have said that the choice that agents offer to consumers is a conflict. It is not. We are the backbone of the American free enterprise system. PIA members are local agents, helping local people. PIA members are your friends, your neighbors and the people you trust for help with all of your insurance needs."

"PIA's annual legislative summit is an important part of our year-round program of legislative advocacy," said Jon D. Spalding, Chairman of the PIA National Federal Affairs Committee, following the congressional visits. "I think we owe it ourselves as business people and to others in our industry to make our case directly. We are the people who are living with the laws made here on a day-to-day basis. What may be good in Michigan may not be reflective of the same need in Louisiana. We have to bring that insight to our elected officials. 

In addition to TRIA, the top issues of concern for agents taking part in the 2005 PIA Federal Legislative Summit were ensuring that insurance regulatory reform is accomplished within the context of state regulation of insurance and advising Congress that no federal legislation is needed regarding insurance broker compensation disclosures, because the states have the matter well in hand. In addition, PIA met with officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency (RMA), the agency that oversees federal crop insurance.

"I always tell our members of Congress that we're the people that come to see them who aren't asking for money," said Carter A. "Cap" Peterson of Wayne, Nebraska, PIA National's 2005 Professional Agent of the Year. "We're out there working for the consumer and we always get an excellent reception from the legislators we meet with."

At day's end, a reception was held for all Summit participants in the U.S. House of Representatives' Rayburn building.

Later that night, the PIA Political Action Committee (PIAPAC) conducted its annual fundraising dinner. Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of The Cook Political Report, was the featured speaker at the PIAPAC fundraising dinner. Cook is a columnist for the National Journal magazine and CongressDailyAM, and he is also an analyst for NBC News as well as CNBC and MSNBC.

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 will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2006.

More Information

2005 PIA Federal Legislative Summit Wrap-up:Video, Photos and Coverage of the April 7, 2005 Event