Washington – Republican House Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri is scheduled to address the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers (the Big “I”) Legislative Conference & Convention in April.

“As the No. 2 ranking Republican in the House, Minority Whip Blunt plays a critical role in shaping and advancing legislation affecting independent agents and brokers,” says Big “I” CEO Robert A. Rusbuldt.

“Blunt will provide insight into the changed political landscape on Capitol Hill, along with his perspectives on legislative proposals of crucial importance to agents and salient issues,” says Charles E. Symington, Jr., Big “I” senior vice president for government affairs and federal relations.

The association announced in December that Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly would speak at the meeting. More than 1,200 independent agents and brokers from across the country are expected to attend.

In other news at the Big I, the association has called upon Congress to reject proposals to repeal the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption for the insurance business.

“We are concerned that an outright repeal of the antitrust exemption in McCarran-Ferguson could have a negative impact on small- and medium-sized insurers in the marketplace, resulting in reduced competition and potentially decreasing the availability and increasing the cost of insurance for consumers,” says Symington.”

Testifying before a Senate committee, association officials urged deferring action until hearing the report of the Antitrust Modernization Commission, which was established by Congress two years ago to study antitrust issues, including the many exemptions and privileges now on the books.

Meanwhile, the Big I has expressed support for a reintroduced surplus lines bill, H.R. 1065, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) and Rep. Ginny Brown Waite (R-Fla.), as a first step for uniformity in producer licensing.  

The legislation singles out two areas—surplus lines regulation and reinsurance supervision—where the association favors changes. Independent insurance agents and brokers play a crucial role in surplus lines (or non-admitted) insurance, which provides coverage for unique or hard-to-place property-casualty risks.

 “The non-admitted marketplace continues to function as a crucial ‘safety valve’ for the entire insurance market,” says Tom Koonce, Big “I” assistant vice president for federal government affairs. “The existing state-based regulatory system has some inefficiencies that disrupt the non-admitted marketplace regarding the allocation and remittance of premium taxes, licensing of nonresident surplus lines brokers, and duplicative regulation of the non-admitted market.  This legislation will correct this.”

The bill also streamlines surplus lines regulation by making the insured’s home state the source of regulation for individual surplus lines transactions. The legislation’s second title would seek to reduce overlapping, multiple-state regulation of both reinsurer financial condition and credit-for-reinsurance on the balance sheets of ceding insurers.

In the 109th Congress, similar legislation passed the House on a 417-0 vote, and the Big “I” says it hopes the legislation will receive favorable consideration this session.

Source: Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers

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