Created Date Tuesday, 07 June 2016
Filesize 546 Kilobytes

2016 Legislative Wrap-Up

2016 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP   The 2016 MN Legislative session started late, started slowly, even though there was a flurry of bills that were pre-filed, and ultimately came to a messy, contentious end around midnight on Sunday, May 22nd. Fortunately, there were no major insurance issues in play as the session wrapped-up, and since a budget was passed last year, there was nothing that HAD to be done this year, Sure, they passed some bills with bipartisan support, but, since they were all there and they had some money to spare, there were some things that they COULD have done that would have benefitted the industry and Minnesotans. The 90th MN Legislature is scheduled to convene on January 3rd, 2017.

WHAT BILLS MADE THE CUT?  We covered MANY industry-related bill introductions in the Agent Focus this year. Given the short session, most of them did not even receive a hearing. Of those bills that, very few made their way through the process to become law. Here are a few bills that did:

HF3014  Autocycle Bill – prompted by the Polaris Slingshot, the bill defines a new type of vehicle that is a cross between a motorcycle and an automobile. Instead of handlebars and foot pegs, the three-wheeled autocycle has a steering wheel, foot pedals and seats (side-by-side) like a car. The new law allows operators to drive them without a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. The bill was signed by Governor Dayton on May 19th and became effective May 20th.  

HF 3384 Life Insurers PBR Bill - An initiative of the domestic life insurers and agents, the Principle Based Reserves Bill updates the way that life insurers are required to calculate reserves by adopting the NAIC’s Standard Valuation Law. The new method of reserving accommodates today’s more complex insurance products and allows Minnesota-based insurers to be more competitive with insurers from (most) other states that have already adopted the NAIC model. The bill received the Governor’s approval on 6/1/2016. 

HF 2749 Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill - Provides supplemental appropriations in numerous areas, including an appropriation to the Department of Commerce of $500,000 in fiscal year 2017 for additional actuarial work to prepare for implementation of principle-based reserves.

HF 2478  Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council Bill – Adopts various recommendations of the WCAC and the Department of Labor and Industry. Received Governor’s approval on 5/12/2016 and is effective August 1, 2016. 

HF 2955   ADA Lawsuit Bill - A bill presented in response to the rash of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits against small businesses across MN that are found to be out of compliance with Federal accessibility laws. The original bill intended to provide a reasonable response period and right to cure potential violation prior to the commencement of litigation, but the bill, as passed, is not as favorable and does not provide an opportunity to preclude litigation by bringing the barrier into compliance. Signed by Governor Dayton on 5/22/2016 and effective on May 23.

What Didn’t Happen?  Many would say that NOTHING happened and legislators could have gone home 12 weeks ago. You saw a brief description of the bills of interest that were introduced. Here are a few noteworthy bills that (in some cases, thankfully) became casualties along the way:

SF 2770   MN Fair and Affordable Auto Insurance Act – An effort by Commissioner Mike Rothman to dramatically change the way auto insurance is priced and rated in Minnesota. The bill called for a retroactive rate roll-back of at least 20% (back to Jan 1, 2016) and would have prohibited an auto insurer from refusing to renew an auto policy on the basis of a claim, regardless of the dollar value of the claim. The bill also provided for a Good Driver premium reduction of at least 20% for insured drivers that: 1) have been licensed to drive for the past 3 years, 2) have had no chargeable accidents over $500 for the past 3 years; and 3) have had no serious violations in the past 10 years. Furthermore, the bill changes the way auto insurance is rated by limiting the factors insurers are allowed to use, in order of importance: 1) the drivers “safety record” 2) the number of miles driven annually, and 3) the number of years of driving experience. Any factors other than those above (for example, insurance score, garage location) or those subsequently approved by the Commissioner would be deemed unfair discrimination. The bill did receive a hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee, but House leadership indicated they had no interest in the bill this session, so that is as far as it went. . .so far. Depending on what happens this fall, we can probably expect to hear more on this from the Governor and Commissioner in the future. 

SF 2304  Homeowners Insurance Disclosure Bill – An initiative of the builders and remodelers associations (and the same attorneys that brought the Cedar Bluffs Townhomes suit) that would have required all applicants, at the time of application for homeowners insurance, to be provided with a written statement that lists ALL additional optional coverage available from the insurer to the applicant. In addition to the unreasonable burden placed on agents, the bill sought to regulate the way claims are handled and called for an increase in the amount of training that public adjusters receive. Ultimately, when asked what problem this bill is attempting to address, the proponents stated that homeowners often think they have coverage when they don’t. Although they said it is all about the consumer, it appeared to be more about how replacement cost and matching claims are handled and how that affects what is available to those in the home construction and repair industry and the attorneys that represent claimants. PIA, and other industry stakeholders met with representatives of the home building and repair industry and Senator Vicki Jensen (D-Owatonna) and Representative Bob Loonan (R-Shakopee) to discuss the reasons why this would not work. PIA provided a 30+ page agent manual listing most (but not all) optional coverages and their description as an example of such disclosure. The bill never received a hearing. 

SF 2791 Commerce Fraud Bureau Search Warrant Authorization – would have added the Commerce Department’s Fraud Bureau to the statutory list of law enforcement agencies that are authorized to apply for or execute search warrants. The bill passed the Senate unanimously but was not brought up for a vote in the House. 

SF 3444  Commerce Fraud Unit Expansion – A bill appropriating $250,000 to the Commerce Department for the addition of two civil insurance fraud investigators. The Department favored the bill, noting that additional staff was required to enforce new civil penalties enacted last year. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill, but we did not see it in there.   

WILL THERE BE A SPECIAL SESSION?  As we mentioned in an earlier Agent Focus, the MN Legislature adjourned sine die by May 23rd, as constitutionally required, but this year’s session came to an end without accomplishing a couple of their top, agreed-to priorities – specifically, a bonding bill and transportation funding. The House made it pretty clear that they did not want to provide additional funding for light rail, while the Senate scuttled the transportation bill by endorsing light rail onto it. So, the question remains whether there will be a special session to tackle these two issues? (Special sessions are not uncommon – there have been 50 of them since Minnesota attained statehood in 1858, with some years having two or even three special sessions.) Governor Dayton has indicated that he will not sign the House and Senate-passed tax relief bill without an agreement for a special session. (If Governor Dayton does NOT act on the tax relief bill by Monday, it is automatically pocket-vetoed.) This week, Governor Dayton laid out a lengthy list of demands that he wants prior to calling a special session. One of those demands is funding for light rail. So, the question remains. . .

Created Date Friday, 29 April 2016
Filesize 21 Kilobytes

Professional Insurance Agents Laud House for Passing Bipartisan Private Flood Insurance Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           CONTACT:   Ted Besesparis

April 28, 2016                                                                                     703-518-1352


Professional Insurance Agents Laud House for
Passing Bipartisan Private Flood Insurance Bill


            WASHINGTON — The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) commends the House of Representatives for passing the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (H.R. 2901), in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 419-0 vote on April 28. 

            “This legislation seeks to encourage the development of a private flood insurance market, with strong consumer protections being overseen by state insurance regulators,” said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile. “We thank the bill’s sponsors Reps. Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL) for their leadership on this important issue.” A companion bill, S. 1679, introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), awaits action in the Senate. “PIA members from around the country were just in town for our Federal Legislative Summit asking members to support this measure. We are pleased Congress heard the voices of their constituents,” Gentile said.

            The bill will expand flood insurance options for consumers by clarifying the definition of a private flood insurance policy as that which provides flood insurance coverage issued by an insurance company that is licensed and approved by the state insurance regulator. “It ensures that private flood insurance can be used to satisfy the National Flood Insurance Program ‘s (NFIP’s) continuous coverage requirement, an essential aspect of ensuring policyholders are not penalized for moving from one policy to another,” Gentile said.

            PIA opposes the immediate privatization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but supports sensible solutions for encouraging the growth of the private flood insurance market with measures like H.R. 2901. In addition, PIA supports the long-term reauthorization of the NFIP when it comes up for renewal in 2017. Encouraging the private flood insurance market is a good first step that we hope to see accomplished this year, understanding that, at present and in the near future, the private market is not a realistic replacement for the NFIP.

            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 America SM. PIA’s web address is www.pianet.com.

This press release is online at:
http://www.pianet.com/news/press-releases/2016/pialaudhouseforpassingbipartisanprivatefloodinsurancebill042816

Ted Besesparis

Senior Vice President, Communications

direct 703.518.1352 | tedbe@pianet.org

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents

400 N. Washington St., 2nd floor, Alexandria, VA 22314-2353

main 703.836.9340 | fax 703.836.1279 | www.pianet.com

PIA National

Created Date Monday, 04 April 2016
Modified Date Monday, 04 April 2016
Filesize 22 Kilobytes

Professional Insurance Agents to hold 2016 Federal Legislative Summit April 6-7

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           CONTACT:   Ted Besesparis

April 4, 2016                                                                                     703-518-1352



Professional Insurance Agents to Hold

                                                                 2016 Federal Legislative Summit April 6-7

            WASHINGTON — Members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) will bring Main Street to Capitol Hill when they convene April 6-7 in Washington, D.C., for the 2016 PIA Federal Legislative Summit (FLS).

            The annual PIA Federal Legislative Summit is a gathering of PIA members from around the country who come together to meet with their members of Congress and advocate their positions on issues important to Professional Insurance Agents.
           

“We closed out last year with a string of legislative successes that we are looking to build on in 2016,” said PIA National President Robert W. Hansen, Jr.

            PIA members will advocate for solutions that enable agents to better serve their clients and communities by encouraging Congress to defend state regulation of insurance, protect a strong and stable crop insurance program, provide a long term authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and reinstate fair and just compensation in healthcare.

            In addition, PIA will advocate for a clear and simple tax code, reducing individual and corporate income tax rates for small businesses, and will oppose tax provisions or regulations that impede small business growth.

            “We are optimistic that our legislative and policy priorities will continue to fare well,”  said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile. “This Congress has broken free of gridlock on insurance issues, approving bills endorsed by PIA. We look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to support the independent agency system and Main Street insurance agents everywhere.”

            The 2016 PIA Federal Legislative Summit begins on the evening of Wednesday, April 6, at the Crystal City Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, PIA’s headquarters hotel, with an in-depth issues briefing session and Q&A to prepare attendees for their congressional visits. The day ends with a reception hosted by PIA’s agency-company council, The PIA Partnership, as well as a fundraising dinner for the Professional Insurance Agents Political Action Committee (PIAPAC).

            The following morning, April 7, PIA members will gather for a kickoff breakfast before making their way to Capitol Hill for a day of advocacy visits with their members of Congress.

            “This Congress has taken many actions to benefit insurance consumers,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker.

            “The list is impressive. So far, this Congress has passed the Policyholder Protection Act, the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act, the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB), renewal of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), a two-year delay in the implementation of the ACA Cadillac Tax and the reversal of a planned $3 billion cut to crop insurance,” Becker said. “We appreciate the responsiveness demonstrated by members of Congress for our issues and look forward to engaging with them again during our legislative summit.”

           For more information, visit the FLS webpage at www.piafls.com.


           PIA thanks our FLS Platinum sponsor The PIA Partnership; Gold sponsor ADM Crop Risk Services; Silver sponsors Liberty Mutual Insurance, Nationwide Independent, State Auto Group, The Hartford; and Bronze sponsors The Motorists Insurance Group, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and Wright Flood.


           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 America SM. PIA’s web address is
http://www.pianet.com/" title="blocked::blocked::http://www.pianet.com/ http://www.pianet.com/">www.pianet.com.

This press release is online at:
http://www.pianet.com/news/press-releases/2016/piatohold2015flsapril67040416

2016 PIA Advocacy and Policy Priorities:

http://pianet.com/docs/2016/piapolicyplan2016/

Ted Besesparis

Senior Vice President, Communications

direct 703.518.1352 | tedbe@pianet.org

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents

400 N. Washington St., 2nd floor, Alexandria, VA 22314-2353

main 703.836.9340 | fax 703.836.1279 | www.pianet.com

PIA members are "Local Agents Serving Main Street America."SM

Interested in PIA's legislative and regulatory accomplishments in 2015 and plans for 2016? Download PIA's 2016 Advocacy and Policy Priorities Guide.

 

Created Date Friday, 12 February 2016
Modified Date Friday, 12 February 2016

Fiscal Year 2017 Budget of the US Government

BUDGET REQUEST CUTS CROP INSURANCE AND CADILLAC TAX   This week, the Obama administration released their fiscal year 2017 budget request – a $4.1 trillion spending plan sent to Congress Feb. 9. (Keep in mind, that the federal government is expected to collect about $3.34 trillion in FY2016). The administration’s FY 2017 final budget request seeks to reduce the impact of the Affordable Care Act “Cadillac Tax,” expand employee retirement savings options and cut $1.3 billion from the federal crop insurance program. The budget would raise the excise tax threshold so it would apply only to those private plans that exceed the average “gold-level” exchange plan in a state. Obama has already agreed to postpone implementation by two years (Best’s News Service, Feb. 4, 2016). The budget request also includes proposed cuts to the federal crop insurance program – to the tune of $18 billion in cuts over ten years. Specifically, budget cuts include a 10% reduction in all policies containing a “harvest price option,” and reforms to coverage for prevented planting. You can see the Budget request HERE. (You can find the brief crop explanation on page 23 and the year by year cut details on page 112). 

Created Date Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Modified Date Wednesday, 16 December 2015

PIA Praises Congressional Budget Agreement with Two Year Delay of “Cadillac Tax” on Health Plans

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             CONTACT:   Ted Besesparis

December 16, 2015                                                                             703-518-1352

PIA Praises Congressional Budget Agreement with
Two Year Delay of “Cadillac Tax” on Health Plans

            WASHINGTON — An agreement for a two-year delay in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) “Cadillac Tax” was praised by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA). Part of a budget agreement negotiated by congressional leaders, it delays implementation of the 40 percent excise tax until 2020. 


            “PIA is encouraged by the two-year delay in the implementation of the ‘Cadillac Tax’ that was negotiated as part of the budget agreement, however we will continue to push for outright repeal of this onerous tax on healthcare benefits,” said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile.

            “The 40 percent excise tax on what was incorrectly termed ‘overly generous’ health plans in reality would impact moderate-benefit plans that middle class Americans rely on, as well as the employer-sponsored health insurance market. We applaud this delay in the Cadillac Tax and view it as a prelude to its full repeal,” Gentile said.

            As originally included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Cadillac Tax would have imposed the 40% excise tax starting in 2018. This budget deal pushes implementation to 2020. The tax applies to fully insured and self-funded employer health plans, on amounts that exceed annual limits of $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. In addition to extending the start date two years, the budget agreement makes the excise tax deductible for businesses.

            The effort to repeal the excise tax on health benefits has attracted broad, bipartisan support. In the House, more than 290 lawmakers supported legislation to repeal it. In the Senate, a repeal provision passed 90-10. A coalition of groups formed to oppose the tax, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and labor unions.

        
          “The ‘Cadillac Tax’ remains a ticking bomb,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “Initially, it was set to explode in 2018. Now, it has been re-set to go off in 2020. PIA will continue to work to disarm it completely, because it has the potential to create more market disruption than we’ve seen since the inception of the ACA.”


            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 America SM. PIA’s web address is http://www.pianet.com

This press release online at:
http://www.pianet.com/news/press-releases/2015/piapraisescongressionalagreementtwoyeardelaycadillactax121615

Ted Besesparis

Senior Vice President, Communications

direct 703.518.1352 | tedbe@pianet.org

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents

400 N. Washington St., 2nd floor, Alexandria, VA 22314-2353

main 703.836.9340 | fax 703.836.1279 | www.pianet.com

PIA members are "Local Agents Serving Main Street America."SM

See why independent insurance agents across America are declaring, "I AM PIA."

 

Created Date Friday, 04 December 2015
Modified Date Friday, 04 December 2015

PIA Praises Reversal of $3 Billion Cut to Crop Insurance

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             CONTACT:   Ted Besesparis

December  4, 2015                                                                 703-518-1352

            PIA Praises Reversal of $3 Billion Cut to Crop Insurance

            WASHINGTON — The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) praised Congress for reversing a $3 billion cut to the budget of the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP). Restoration of the funds came in the form of an amendment to a highway spending measure that was approved by the House and the Senate on December 3.

            “This is a significant victory for America’s farmers and for our nation’s entire agriculture sector,” said PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile. “PIA insurance agents around the country engaged in an active campaign of advocacy to get these cuts restored, which contributed to this success.”

            The legislative action delivered on promises made by congressional leadership to reverse the cuts, which had been included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (H.R. 1314).

            A last-minute attempt to strip the crop provision out of the highway bill in the Senate failed overwhelmingly, by a vote of 75-22.


          “We are very pleased that Congress delivered on its promise,” Gentile said. “House and Senate leaders quickly responded to the calls from their constituents by pledging to make the crop insurance program whole again. These cuts would have seriously jeopardized the private sector delivery of crop insurance.”

            The crop insurance program has already contributed more than $12 billion to reducing government spending since 2008. Often the alternative to crop insurance is ad hoc disaster assistance—which is not delivered in a timely manner, is paid entirely by the taxpayer, and does not provide the confidence needed by lenders to provide farmers with capital.

            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.

This press release is online at:

http://www.pianet.com/news/press-releases/2015/piapraisesreversal3billioncutcropinsurance120415

Ted Besesparis

Senior Vice President, Communications

direct 703.518.1352 | tedbe@pianet.org

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents

400 N. Washington St., 2nd floor, Alexandria, VA 22314-2353

main 703.836.9340 | fax 703.836.1279 | www.pianet.com

PIA members are "Local Agents Serving Main Street America."SM

See why independent insurance agents across America are declaring, "I AM PIA."

 

Created Date Thursday, 05 November 2015

Insurance Issues Join Capitol Hill

Insurance Issues Join Capitol Hill

November 1, 2015 | By Ted Besesparis

Lawmakers quietly finding agreement on enacting the PACE bill and repealing the “Cadillac tax”

If you pay attention to most media reports, you might conclude that Washington, D.C., is in the grip of gridlock that's only getting worse. There is plenty of evidence to support this perception.

The divisiveness and acrimony on Capitol Hill increased to the point that John Boehner resigned both his speakership and his congressional seat in utter frustration.

Sounds like nothing's getting done, right?

Not quite. While lawmakers fight about issues such as funding for Planned Parenthood, they are quietly finding agreement on—of all things—insurance.

A Series of Wins

In the hyper-partisan atmosphere of our nation's capital, insurance legislation is drawing bipartisan support. One example: under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government was going to change the definition of a small group market in health insurance by raising it from 50 or fewer to 100 or fewer. This would have raised costs for many small businesses that provide their employees with health insurance.

A bipartisan bill, the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employers (PACE), was introduced that enables the states as the regulators of insurance to keep the current definition of a small group market in health insurance at 50 or fewer employees. First the House passed it, unanimously. Then the Senate passed it, by voice vote. So much for gridlock.

There is another issue that has attracted broad support: repeal of the so-called “Cadillac Tax.” The tax, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, applies to fully insured and self-funded employer health plans on expenditures that exceed annual limits of $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.

This tax is particularly odious, for reasons far too numerous to recount here. It is based on the false assumption that people who have good health insurance coverage are personally responsible for others not having it. It attempts to ration healthcare by taking coverage away from some in order to provide it to others. It is the legislative equivalent of Robin Hood.

The Cadillac Tax is a time bomb set to explode in 2018 that would begin to dismantle private sector health insurance. It is a poison pill that threatens to divert money away from the private sector into expanding the government's healthcare system.

Bipartisan Coalitions

At first, opposition to the Cadillac Tax came from the sources you might expect: advocates for business, Republicans, those of us in the insurance industry, anti-tax organizations and staunch opponents of Obamacare. But then something interesting happened: broad-based, bipartisan coalitions began to form. Labor unions, having negotiated good health coverage for their members in lieu of raises, joined in opposition to the tax.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, which does nonpartisan healthcare analysis, reports that a recent poll it conducted finds that 60% of the public opposes the tax, while 28% favor it.

Once the public makes up its collective mind about something, its political leaders are quick to follow. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both joined the fight against the Cadillac Tax. In late September, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) included repeal in a broad package that passed out of committee. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) even went so far as saying that the repeal wouldn't necessarily need a budget offset of the nearly $90 billion hole it would create during 10 years. This support means the Cadillac Tax's days are numbered.

Such unexpected agreement on insurance issues has been happening for a while. A five-year farm bill, which includes the Federal Crop Insurance Program, was signed into law in 2014. In January of this year, Congress voted overwhelmingly to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and created the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers. In 2012, Congress passed a five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program; the vote in the House was 373–52, while the Senate passed it 74–19.

Our Value Proposition

What's at work here? Why have insurance issues moved smoothly through Congress and been enacted into law with bipartisan support, when the same lawmakers are at loggerheads on a host of hot-button issues?

There are two reasons. First, lobbyists for the insurance industry and specifically the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents have done an excellent job making their cases to lawmakers. And they do it the old-fashioned way—through honest persuasion, and by pointing out all of the advantages of the proposals they advocate.

As an industry, we have done a good job at convincing people of our value proposition. Americans like what insurance does for them. People keep buying insurance because it is vital for them to protect the most important things in their lives. Consumers know that insurance is a contract to protect people and their property, and a promise to be made whole in the event of a loss.

Beyond that, the insurance industry protects the U.S. economy. Without insurance, private-sector businesses and public sector enterprises would grind to a halt. According to the I.I.I., insurers contributed $413 billion—2.5% of the nation's gross domestic product—in 2012.

Our industry is regulated prudently by the states, not imprudently by the federal government. That's one reason our industry remained strong and stable through both the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2007–2009.

Congress often hears from supporters and opponents on controversial issues. But although there are differing opinions on our issues, no one ever argues that insurance should be abolished. It's too important—and the American people know it.

Ted Besesparis

Senior Vice President, Communications

direct 703.518.1352 | tedbe@pianet.org

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents

400 N. Washington St., 2nd floor, Alexandria, VA 22314-2353

main 703.836.9340 | fax 703.836.1279 | www.pianet.com

PIA members are "Local Agents Serving Main Street America."SM

See why independent insurance agents across America are declaring, "I AM PIA."

Created Date Wednesday, 20 May 2015
Filesize 19 Kilobytes

Two Bills Endorced by PIA Advance to Senate Banking Committee Markup

Created Date Thursday, 26 March 2015
Modified Date Thursday, 26 March 2015
Filesize 108 Kilobytes

#PIAMNFLS

PIA Federal Legislative Summit - March 26, 2015

 FLS2015

Created Date Monday, 23 March 2015
Modified Date Thursday, 26 March 2015

MN DELEGATION READY FOR 2015 PIA FLS

MN DELEGATION READY FOR NEXT WEEKS PIA FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT The annual PIA Federal Legislative Summit (FLS) is a gathering of PIA members who come together in Washington, D.C. to meet with their Members of Congress. This is an agent's opportunity to discuss important issues with your elected officials. PIA's presence on Capitol Hill sends a strong message to Congress that agents won't sit on the sidelines while important legislation moves through Congress. Travel with PIA of MN members during the FLS by visiting our blog, Facebook, or LinkedIn for updates on the Federal Legislative Summit. Follow our MN members on Twitter by searching hashtag: #PIAMNFLS. For more information on the FLS, click here: PIAFLS.

Created Date Monday, 23 March 2015
Filesize 713 Kilobytes

PIA ANNOUNCES 2015 FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT

This year’s Federal Legislative Summit (FLS) will be held March 25-26, 2015. PIA Members come together in Washington, DC, to meet with their elected representatives. It is an opportunity to meet and reacquaint yourself with your members of Congress and to let them know that you are willing to take time out of your busy schedule to travel to Washington, DC, to discuss issues that are important to professional insurance agents. PIA of Minnesota will once again be hosting a contingent to visit our state’s senators and representatives, and we will make the necessary appointments. For more information on the FLS, visit: www.PIAFLS.com.  

Created Date Tuesday, 10 June 2014

PIA National Slates District Lobbying Day for August 29, 2014

PIA National will hold its annual District Lobbying Day, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. PIA members are encouraged to schedule meetings with their elected officials to discuss issues that are important to the insurance community. For more information, click here.

Created Date Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Modified Date Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Filesize 607 Kilobytes

2014 PIA Legislative Wrap-Up

 

2014 PIA LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP  The Minnesota Legislature adjourned sine die last Friday evening, May 16th, following a couple of long days necessary to finish up a bonding bill, a tax relief bill a supplemental appropriations  bill and, of course, the bill to allow the medical use of marijuana. Among those last-minute actions, were a couple of bills that PIA of Minnesota has been active on, including The Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (HF 3073) and the bulk sale of Driver’s License and Motor Vehicle Records(SF 1770).

The Insurance Fraud Prevention Act  PIA and other industry colleagues were active in the interim between sessions and during this session with the Fraud Prevention Task Force, which collectively created SF 2372 a Senate bill that would have made substantial headway toward decreasing fraud in the no-fault auto insurance system by limiting accident solicitations, authorizing administrative penalties against medical service providers, providing immunity for insurance-related entities when disclosing or sharing information about fraudulent activities. The bill also increased the statutory amounts available for disability and income loss benefits, funeral and burial expenses and survivors economic loss benefits, along with setting up a task force to study the issue of auto insurance verification. The bill was a non-political, bi-partisan effort to prevent auto insurance fraud. Unfortunately, in the last days of the session, the debate became purely partisan and the Senate adopted the House language. HF 3073 does not contain several of the industry-supported reforms, but does include the immunity provisions, increases the disability and income loss benefits (to $500 per week from $250), increases funeral and burial expense provision (to $5,000 from $2,000) and increases survivor’s economic loss benefits (to $500 from $200). The bill DOES include the portion Task Force on Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage Verification that will review and evaluate approaches to verification and make recommendations to the Legislature. This bill passed the House 72-55 and the Senate 41-21 and was signed by Governor Dayton on 5/21/2014.

Bulk Sale of Driver License and Motor Vehicle Records SF 1770, a data practices bill dealing with government contracts became the vehicle for language pertaining to bulk sales of driver license and motor vehicle records. The bill authorizes the DPS to sell the data in bulk, establishes a fee for such data sales, sets provisions for security audits and splits proceeds from the sale of data between DPS and the Legislative Auditor.

Insurance and Business Related Bills: Here are some other insurance and business related bills of interest:

HF 2695  This commerce bill modifies the requirements for Department of Commerce licensee education. The bill changes the defininitions of Classroom Course and Distance Learning Course to accommodate webinars. The bill contains 1 Unsession provision, and passed unanimously in both chambers. Signed by the Governor on 5/16/2014.

HF 2090  This bill prohibits certain indemnification agreements. This passed unanimously in both chambers and was signed by Governor Dayton on 5/16/2014.

SF 1246  This public safety bill requires a driver to stop and investigate possible personal injury or property damage following a collision. This bill passed the House 124–3 and the Senate 45-16. Signed on 5/1/2014.

HF 2853  This commerce bill regulates certain licensees. The bill modifies education requirements, enforcement provisions and other actions. The bill prohibits certain homeowner’s policy surcharges. The bill contains 22 Unsession provisions related to the federal conformity of insurance laws. The bill also enacts Unsession changes proposed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This bill passed the House 102-23 and the Senate 56-0.  Signed on 5/5/2014.

SF 1740 This bill requires all new smartphones sold in Minnesota after July 1, 2015, to have an anti-theft “kill switch” function. This new kill switch function will allow smartphone owners to remotely disable their smartphone if it is lost or stolen, rendering the devices useless to thieves and reducing the incentive for a growing wave of violent cell phone thefts. Signed on 5/14/2014.

SF 1689  This insurance bill authorizes certain benefits for Minnesota FAIR plan and Minnesota Joint Underwriting Association employees. The bill also provides conforming and technical changes. The bill passed the House 123-3 and the Senate 42-22. Signed by Governor Dayton on 4/30/2014.

SF 2065  This bill makes the Department of Labor and Industry’s Contractor Registration Pilot Program permanent, aligns Minnesota’s apprenticeship laws with the federal standards, and modifies municipal building code enforcement. The bill provides an exception to certain high pressure boiler requirements and requires a workgroup to study plumbing at certain resorts. This passed the House 82-48 and the Senate 40-18. Signed by the Governor on 5/21/2014.

HF 2605  This bill relates to the automated property system (APS) for tracking scrap metal and scrap vehicle transactions. It delays the implementation date and establishes parameters for a transaction fee. The bill passed the House 113-17 and the Senate 62-0. Signed by Governor Dayton on 5/1/2014.

HF 2854  This Unsession bill removes and modifies obsolete, unnecessary and redundant laws and rules administered by the Department of Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission. The bill eliminates obsolete laws like carrying fruit in an illegally sized container, regulating insurance policies sold in vending machines, and regulations specific to the telegraph. The bill contains 184 Unsession provisions and passed unanimously in both chambers. Signed by Governor Dayton on 5/9/2014.

HF 3072 This transportation bill modernizes provisions governing motor vehicles and eliminates antiquated, unnecessary, and obsolete provisions. This bill contains 21 Unsession provisions, including repealing a law that made it illegal to drive a car in neutral. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers and was signed by Governor Dayton on 5/16/2014.

HF 2658  This Unsession bill adopts recommendations from the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council. This bill contained 7 Unsession provisions. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers. Signed on 4/30/2014.

HF 2091  The bill increases the minimum wage in Minnesota to $9.50 per hour by 2016, and indexes it to inflation. This bill passed the House 71-60 and the Senate 35-31. Signed by Governor Dayton on 4/14/2014.

When all is said and done, those in the industry would tend to agree that it was generally a pretty good session for insurance. No bad-for-insurance bills got anywhere, and while we did not get all of the reforms we had hoped for, there was a lot of time and attention spent on insurance fraud awareness and prevention, which can be considered a good start and progress toward future efforts.   

 

Created Date Monday, 12 May 2014

May Legislative Update

As we approach the last week of this legislative session, lawmakers continue to work their way through bills. Here are some that Governor Dayton has already signed: HF 2658 This bill adopts recommendations from the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council and contains seven “Unsession” provisions. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers and was signed by Governor Dayton on 4/30/2014.  SF 1689 This insurance bill authorizes certain benefits for Minnesota FAIR plan and Minnesota Joint Underwriting Association employees. The bill also provides conforming and technical changes. The bill passed the House 123-3 and the Senate 42-22.  Governor Dayton signed the bill on 4/30/2014. SF 1246  This public safety bill requires a driver to stop and investigate possible personal injury or property damage following a collision. This bill passed the House 124–3 and the Senate 45-16. Signed by the Governor on 5/1/2014. HF 2853 This commerce bill regulates certain licensees. The bill modifies education requirements, enforcement provisions and other actions. The bill prohibits certain homeowners policy surcharges. The bill contains 22 Unsession provisions related to the federal conformity of insurance laws. The bill also enacts Unsession changes proposed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This bill passed the House 102-23 and the Senate 56-0.  Signed by Governor Dayton on 5/5/2014.

Created Date Thursday, 10 April 2014

The 2014 PIA Federal Legislative Summit a Tremendous Success!

“The 2014 PIA FLS was a tremendous success with a large attendance by PIA agents,” said PIA National President John G. Lee. “We were able to visit with our lawmakers face to face and review our different issues of concern with them, such as the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), healthcare, insurance regulation, flood insurance and crop insurance.”

PIA members participated in a legislative briefing; heard remarks by Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) in a keynote address; and spent a day meeting with their Representatives and Senators, engaging them in discussions about issues that are important to Professional Insurance Agents.

“Meeting with your Senators or representative gives you a sense of accomplishment, in that you have helped explain our position on the issues and represented your fellow agents in doing so,” Lee said. “I know our congressmen love to see and hear from us as they make decisions on insurance matters that affect both consumers and agents. They may not vote our way all of the time, but at least we can sit in front of them and explain our position and hopefully persuade them to vote our way. It’s great to play a part in the legislative process by visiting them on Capitol Hill.”

PIA Members Comment on the 2014 PIA FLS

Attendance at the 2014 PIA FLS was up and members were very enthusiastic. Here are impressions from some of the FLS participants:

“The PIA Federal Legislative Summit is just the thing agents need to really keep in touch and influence our Congressmen and Senators,” said PIA National President-elect Richie Clements. “There is nothing like a face to face meeting with the person that represents your area and state. This year, the FLS was particularly successful. The delegation from Louisiana was able to meet with both Senators and most of the state’s Congressmen or staff person. We were able to thank them for their work on the flood insurance reform and ask their help on renewing TRIA, reforming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to protect the participation by licensed agents, and roll back the cuts to crop insurance proposed by President Obama in his budget proposal. We also stressed that we could be their resource on any insurance matter.”

“It was very satisfying to take part in the kind of grassroots advocacy that epitomizes citizen involvement in the legislative process,” said PIA National Vice President/Treasurer Rob Hansen. “Hundreds of PIA agents descended on Capitol Hill to discuss our views on the issues that matter to us. It’s a very humbling experience and our lawmakers were very receptive. Our Federal Legislative Summit is another way that Main Street insurance agents can influence legislation and truly protect our livelihoods as insurance agents and business owners. There is no better way to stand up for our customers and ourselves.”

“PIA’s Federal Legislative Summit is an example of effective grassroots advocacy in practice,” said PIA National Government Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Russell. “Agents from around the country converge on the Capitol with a common goal: to protect and promote the independent agency system.”

“The best part about it is that it actually works,” Russell said. “We met with Allison Smith, a legislative assistant for Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) on Thursday. The following Monday she was writing us, not only to thank us for sharing our views, but to make us aware of potential opposition to those issues by way of an article about conservative opposition to the renewal of TRIA. We can now ask our agent representatives in the states where some members of Congress are opposed to renewing TRIA to redouble their efforts and ask them to please reconsider their stance. The relationship we formed with this staffer is beneficial to PIA and is a direct result of the FLS.”

“Not everything is broken in Washington!,” said PIA National Immediate Past President Andrew C. Harris. “The ability to meet with, and discuss the major issues impacting our industry with the Representatives that make the laws is still alive and well, as evidenced by our meetings last week. Although the process is still cumbersome, we were able to advocate for our members and help forge our mission forward in Washington.”

“Outside of the fact that the FLS was successful and energized members, I was impressed by the ‘family’ aspects of the event,” said PIA National Secretary/Assistant Treasurer Gary Blackwell. “PIA itself is a family – supporting one another as we hit the Hill; the nods of encouragement as we quietly walk past members attending the infamous hallway meetings with House staff; PIA members genuinely asking each other how their visits went, with a few slaps on the back for a job well done. A second family aspect is where members actually brought their families to participate in our effort. To me, it is very powerful when a PIA member is voicing our cause with their spouse and children standing in support. I believe this shows Congress that their decisions affect families, not just a group or industry.”

Twitter tidbit:As you know, we asked FLS attendees to use the hashtag #PIAFLS. By looking at the analytics on Monday, there was a total of 224 tweets and retweets of that hashtag. The hashtag reached 11,381 users, supported largely by some Twitter users with large followings who used the hashtag (A.M. Best Company, for example) to retweet PIA’s tweets. Because some people used it multiple times, the hashtag was delivered to Twitter timelines 116,007 times!

Created Date Wednesday, 05 March 2014

House Passes Flood Insurance Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday evening passed legislation to curb some of the premium increases in the nation’s flood insurance program that have been causing “sticker shock” for property owners.

H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, sponsored by Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), passed 306-91 under a “suspension of the rules” requiring a two-thirds vote in favor. The measure reverses some of the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) introduced by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012

Read more here: Flood Insurance Bill.

Created Date Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Modified Date Wednesday, 26 February 2014

PIA Lobbying Prompts USDA to Issue Crop Anti-Rebating Bulletin

 Action by PIA prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue a memo reaffirming the federal prohibition on the practice of rebating in the sale of crop insurance. The memo issued on February 18, 2014 by USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) Acting Deputy Administrator for Insurance Services Heather Manzano noted “No person shall pay, allow, or give, or offer to pay, allow, or give, directly or indirectly, either as an inducement to procure insurance or after insurance has been procured, any rebate, discount, abatement, credit, or reduction of the premium named in an insurance policy or any other valuable consideration or inducement not specified in the policy.”

PIA raised the issue of prohibited rebating with RMA regarding entities that have ancillary services and products. “This is a big victory for PIA agents who sell crop insurance because it provides some clarification on an area that has been very vague,” said Steve Becher, a member of the PIA National Crop Insurance Working Group and executive director of PIA of North Dakota, who along with other PIA leaders met with USDA/RMA officials during last month’s meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in Washington, D.C.

“The independent agents who are members of PIA respect both the letter and the spirit of anti-rebating laws both at the state and federal levels, and encourage their enforcement to ensure a level playing field in the sale of crop insurance,” Becher said. “RMA is basically reinforcing what we have been saying all along. Our concern is not about pens and lunches. The memo makes it clear that items of ‘minimum’ value are not a problem; the focus is on major enticements that are prohibited.”

“PIA greatly appreciates the quick action by RMA after we brought this to their attention, but more needs to be done to ensure that entities do not use ancillary discounts to illegally entice producers,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “It needs to be emphasized that, in addition to federal laws, states may enforce their own anti-rebating laws and turn over cases to the federal government for additional action.” Becker also noted that items of “minimal” value, like pens and calendars, are exempted and not of concern. “Anti-rebating laws are meant to prohibit unethical practices that inhibit competition and distort the free functioning of the insurance marketplace,” Becker said.   

Created Date Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Modified Date Wednesday, 12 February 2014

PIA Lobbying for Crop Insurance Pays Off

PIA’s Lobbying for Crop Insurance Pays Off As Farm Bill Signed Into Law February 12, 2014 After the Senate gave overwhelming approval Feb. 4 to the Farm Bill by a vote of 68-32, President Obama signed the nearly $1 trillion measure into law Feb. 7 in a barn on the campus of Michigan State University. Passage of the Farm Bill caps years of controversy. For PIA crop insurance agents, the news is good. In the negotiations for the bill, PIA met with House and Senate offices throughout the process to ensure that crop insurance would not sustain any further cuts and that the legislation would continue to strengthen the program. In the final bill, funding for crop insurance has been increased. The best news for agents and companies is that the Administrative and Operating (A&O) and underwriting gains are “budget neutral,” which means the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cannot cut these areas in future standard reinsurance agreement (SRA) negotiations without putting equal budget dollars back into the crop program. It specifically locks in the A&O at current levels ($1.4 billion). Farm Bill Expands Crop Insurance Programs (National Underwriter 2/10/14)

Created Date Wednesday, 05 February 2014

Senate Passes Farm Bill

The Senate passed and sent to President Barack Obama a measure that sets U.S. agricultural policy for five years, ending the toughest legislative battle on renewal of the farm bill in almost two decades with cuts to crop subsidies and food stamps.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2014/02/04/319370.htm

 

Created Date Wednesday, 05 February 2014
Modified Date Wednesday, 05 February 2014
Filesize 103 Kilobytes

PIA Federal Legislative Summit

FLS2014The annual PIA Federal Legislative Summit (FLS) is a gathering of PIA members who come together in Washington, D.C. to meet with their Members of Congress. This is your opportunity to discuss important issues with your elected officials. PIA's presence on Capitol Hill sends a strong message to Congress that agents won't sit on the sidelines while important legislation moves through Congress.

Brad Welle, CIC, CRM, Owner of Associated Insurance Counselors had this to share about his experiences at the FLS, “I have participated in a few PIA Federal Legislative Summits and each time at the start I think the Federal Government is too big, too many ego’s, too many agenda’s, too much partisanship.  With all that after spending the day “On the Hill” I am reminded we as American’s do have a voice, our voice is heard and our efforts do make a difference.  Participating in the PIA Federal Legislative Summit is a great way to make issues related to our industry known to our law makers.  Face to face contact is always the best and most effective.  Plus Washington DC is a place you can visit over and over again.”

The 2014 PIA FLS begins in the afternoon on Wednesday, March 26, with an in-depth issue briefing and Q&A with PIA staff to prep attendees for their meetings the next day. During the briefing everyone receives issues sheets, talking point note cards, tips for conducting successful congressional visits and other materials to aid them.    

To register, visit the FLS webpage at www.piafls.com then visit www.piamn.com or contact us by phone to secure a $750 scholarship! Travel with PIA of MN members during the FLS by visiting our blog, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for continuous updates on the Federal Legislative Summit!

Created Date Monday, 28 October 2013
Modified Date Monday, 28 October 2013

Bipartisan Deal Reached to Delay Flood Insurance Premium Hikes: Waters

Key House and Senate members have reached a bipartisan deal to delay changes to the federal flood insurance program that are raising premiums for many homeowners. The bill would require regulators to address affordability of the coverage before implementing rate hikes.

Read all the details here.

Created Date Monday, 21 October 2013
Modified Date Monday, 21 October 2013
Filesize 44 Kilobytes

PIA Signs Letter to house Leaders Opposing Cuts in Crop Insurance

PIA Signs Letter to House Leaders Opposing Cuts in Crop Insurance: PIA has joined with a host of other groups in signing a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposing proposed cuts to crop insurance contained in a Sense of the House resolution. This latest resolution comes after attempts to cut crop insurance protection during floor consideration of the 2013 Farm Bill were defeated.

Created Date Friday, 27 September 2013
Modified Date Friday, 27 September 2013
Filesize 68 Kilobytes

Legislative Update 9 13 13

CROP INSURANCE UNDER FIRE

Created Date Friday, 27 September 2013
Modified Date Friday, 27 September 2013
Filesize 108 Kilobytes

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PIA of Minnesota
8646 Eagle Creek Circle, Suite 202
Savage, MN 55378

Phone: 866-694-7070
Fax: 866-749-8678

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