Update on National Flood Insurance
With Congress just getting back in session this week after the midterm
elections, federal legislators will have a busy lame-duck session to
complete outstanding work that they didn't get done before the elections.
Congress only has a few short weeks to extend the National Flood Insurance
Program (NFIP), which is scheduled to expire on Nov. 30. This brief period
will include leadership elections in each chamber's party conferences,
along with the Thanksgiving holiday recess.
Unfortunately, Congress chose to separate the NFIP from the appropriations
process when the program was extended earlier this year for the seventh time.
As a result, the program is in danger of lapsing for a significant amount of
time. If Congress fails to act, the program will expire in the immediate
aftermath of another devastating hurricane season. In the absence of a
must-pass legislative vehicle to which it can be attached, the program is
in danger of expiring for an extended period, putting millions of policyholders
at risk. In the wake of 2018 Atlantic Hurricanes Florence and Michael, Congress
should take no chances with the homes and businesses of policyholders.
PIA National has issued a national
grassroots alert asking Congress to pass an extension
of the NFIP beyond its current expiration date. PIA members are encouraged to
take a few moments to send an action alert, which can be found
here, or by visiting PIA's advocacy center at
PIA Urges Bipartisanship in 116th Congress
After the election results were known, PIA issued a statement saying "PIA
will continue to promote the valued role of professional independent insurance
agents in the new 116th Congress by seeking business-friendly policies that
encourage a strong, competitive insurance market that serves insurance
consumers well. With the Democratic party now set to control the House,
and the Senate to remain in Republican control, PIA encourages the next
Congress to find bipartisan solutions to strengthen our economy."
"PIA will continue to advocate for policies that help independent insurance
agents protect consumers: a strong National Flood Insurance Program and crop
insurance program; the strengthening of employer-sponsored health care; and
opposition to proposals that chip away at the successful state insurance
regulatory system," said Jon Gentile, PIA National vice president of
government relations. PIA looks forward to accomplishing some of these goals
during the lame-duck session of the 115th Congress, as we prepare for the
new Congress to be seated in January.
Impact on Our Issues
It's good to note that apart from health insurance, insurance generally is
not a hot-button topic in Congress. The approach to most insurance issues is
more bipartisan. We hope the changes to the composition of Congress will
encourage a renewed spirit of bipartisanship in terms of creating opportunities
for insurance agents to expand their businesses and increase the take-up rate
for flood and other essential lines of insurance.
While a lot has been accomplished under two years of singular
control—including passage of tax reform, which led to many agents and brokers
being able to qualify for a very helpful pass-through tax deduction—we now may
see positive actions as the result of this split Congress.
Open Enrollment for Marketplace Coverage
The open enrollment period for 2019 health insurance coverage through
Marketplaces and other individual plans is here. The National Association
of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a
In addition, with the start of the enrollment period, some states are
issuing warnings about non-ACA compliant short-term health plans.
Some states point out that there is a difference in the level of coverage
consumers can find with short-term health plans, and health plans that meet
all the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One of the stronger
warnings comes from the state of New Jersey, which
cautions against "skimpy health plans and junk insurance… which fail
to meet the standards of New Jersey law, are prohibited in the state" and
"do not supersede New Jersey laws."
Florence Toll $17 Billion, Half Not Covered
North Carolina estimates that Hurricane Florence caused nearly
$17 billion in damage
to homes, businesses and farms. Up to half of that amount may not
be covered by private insurance or government aid. The latest estimates from
the state Department of Insurance mean that the physical and economic harm
caused by Hurricane Florence has outstripped the combined damages of two
previous storms, Hurricanes Matthew and Floyd.
The state estimates that private insurance will cover $4.8 billion in
storm losses from Florence, the federal government has pledged $2.5 billion
in aid, and the state has proposed spending $750 million, on top of $56 million
approved by the General Assembly during a special session in early October.
That leaves an estimated $8.8 billion in uncovered costs, according to
Gov. Roy Cooper's office.