How would it transform your business if you met personally, for 30 minutes, one-on-one, with every member in both houses of Congress–sharing a consistent and rehearsed message? Would your anecdotal evidence and objective reasoning influence the lawmaking body of our country? That is exactly what my industry does annually: we leverage the members in our association–the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (the Big I)–to schedule appointments with every elected official in Congress, on the same day, to explain what is important to us and to our clients, to clarify the industry-specific issues we face as a nation, and to make recommendations for legislation. In other words, we show up, and we tell our story.
By showing up, we provide each elected official wirh a coordinated message and citizen from his or her electorate to enact or prevent change. Recently, the Big I was the only insurance association that supported a bill (now law) to delay the roll out of costly flood insurance reform challenging Cape Cod and other coastal communities.
This past April 10, we focused our attention on four issues: (1) extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which expires this year (the Boston Marathon bombing is a tragic reminder of the unpredictable nature and cost of terrorism); (2) streamlining insurance agent licensing across state borders to enhance competition and help clients with out-of-state risks (3) addressing individual versus corporate tax rates (opposing Dave Camp’s proposed tax reform wirh 35 percent tax rates for S corporations versus 25 percent for C corporations); and (4) maintaining state-based insurance regulation, which has proven to work well. In addition, our representatives frequently discussed flood insurance and the Affordable Care Act.
I personally scheduled a meeting wirh U.S. Representative Bill Keating, sat in meetings wirh Keating and U.S. Representatives Michael Capuano and Jim McGovern, and met with a staffer for U.S. Senator Ed Markey. Other members from our state association met the remaining seven Massachusetts representatives. I hand-delivered an MV Times news article to each representative that highlighted Martha’s Vineyard Marina, which, like many, saw enormous flood insurance rate increases and decided to raise their building ten feet rather than pay the exorbitant insurance premium.
People come to Washington, D.C., because they envision something different and better for their country. As a millennial building my business, I want to help my clients. Social media is a great tool that incites change around the world. But sometimes a warm body and hand delivery is more memorable than sharing a news story on Facebook.
Peter MacDonald, left, Frank Mancini (President & CEO Massachusetts Association of Independent Insurance Agents), Jack Connolly, U.S. Representative Michael Capano (D-7th), Joseph Leahy Jr., Thom DePaulo, Heather Cochrane
Originally written for the Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine. (Original PDF: Lobbying in DC)