Be Aware. Be Supportive. Be Engaged.

The following blog was written by Bobby Salmon, Vice President of INSURE in Raleigh. He is a former Chairman of the IIANC Board of Directors and currently serves as North Carolina’s National Director on the IIABA Board of Directors.

Last month I attended the 2019 Big “I” Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, along with 29 other North Carolina independent insurance agents from all across our state.

During our two days in the nation’s capital, we were briefed by Big “I” lobbyists on key federal issues important to our industry, and visited with the members of our Congressional delegation and their staffs to discuss those very issues.

Recently reflecting on my two days going from office to office on Capitol Hill made me want to share some insights from that experience with my fellow IIANC member agents.

No matter the topic – from reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to continued regulatory and tax reform – time and time again our contingent of IIANC members attending the Big “I” Legislative Conference heard our elected federal representatives, both Democrats and the Republicans, say how much they appreciated our taking time to offer them our insights as independent agents.

Now I know personally, from my many years of involvement with advocacy on issues important to the independent insurance agency business model at both the state and federal level, that the vast majority of elected and governmental officials do have tremendous respect for our profession.

They know independent insurance agents are highly engaged and involved in the civic affairs of our communities; that we have a wide scope of influence at the local level because the people we provide services to are our family, friends and neighbors, and not just our customers.

But, we should never just assume the elected and governmental officials making regulatory and taxation decisions fully understand and appreciate the impact their choices have on our agencies – it will always be absolutely true that one stroke off a pen enacting a bad state or federal law could bring your business to its financial knees… and that’s why we must always support the work of our association lobbyists working on our behalf at the NC General Assembly and US Congress by participating in the advocacy efforts of our state and national associations.

Here are three things I strongly suggest you do:

Be aware. Read the regular communications you get from both IIANC and IIABA on what’s happening in government and politics in both Raleigh and Washington. Stay informed about the status of legislation and regulations being discussed and debate at both the state and federal level.

Be engaged. Take part in opportunities to participate in advocacy events (like the recent Big “I” Legislative Conference and IIANC’s Legislative Day held on May 2 in Raleigh). When you get an action alert asking you to call or e-mail your elected representatives to express support for or opposition to a particular piece of legislation, DO IT!

Be supportive of our political action committees (PACs): IIANC PAC supports candidates for state office and InsurPac supports candidates for federal office – both are key tools in our advocacy toolbox that establish and strengthen our relationship with members of the state legislature and the US House and Senate. Your personal contribution makes sure both IIANC PAC and InsurPac have the resources needed to accomplish that important purpose.

Quick story to bring this message home … I have the pleasure of serving on the national Big “I” Government Affairs Committee. During the Legislative Conference in Washington in May, while sitting in the committee meeting, I saw our federal lobbying team in action first hand. 

Legislation had just been introduced in Congress that would have required nearly every business with fewer than 20 employees to file new reports on their beneficial ownership with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), including disclosure of any individual who “receives substantial economic benefits from the assets of” the business – failure to comply with reporting requirements would be a federal crime with civil penalties of up to $10,000 and criminal penalties of up to 3 years in prison. 

It would have meant yet another layer of federal disclosure and burdensome paperwork for independent agents.

Our federal lobbying team sprung to action, making calls and firing off messages to key Congressional staffers. Within fifteen minutes they reported back that “insurance producers” had been added to the list of industries excluded from this legislation.  

My friends… this was truly seeing how the dollars you contribute to our political action committees have an impact on a daily basis in both DC and Raleigh.  Relationships developed with legislators and their staff vis a vis our state and federal PACs cannot be underestimated – PAC support does not buy votes, but I can tell you unequivocally that it does help open doors so that our voice can be heard at a moment’s notice.

If you have not already made your 2019 contribution to IIANC PAC and InsurPac, you can do so by clicking HERE – I encourage you to do so today!

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