Big “I” Applauds Senate Passage Of Flood Insurance Legislation

Originally posted March 19, 2014 on http://www.insurancebroadcasting.com

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2014 — The Big “I” applauds the U.S. Senate for passing H.R. 3370, the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013,” by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.).

The bipartisan bill would make changes to the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 (Biggert-Waters) in order to help with the “sticker shock” some consumers are facing as a result of two provisions that create drastic premium increases in many parts of the country. The House passed H.R. 3370 on March 4, 2014 in a 306 – 91 vote.

“The Big ‘I’ would like to particularly commend Senators Menendez and Isakson and Representatives Grimm and Waters for their tireless work on fixing some of the unintended effects of Biggert-Waters,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “This bill was a top priority for the Big ‘I’ as it will reduce some of the harmful effects of Biggert-Waters without undoing the numerous positive provisions within the law.”

In addition to other revisions to Biggert-Waters, the bill would repeal the entirety of Section 207 and would therefore reinstate the “grandfathering” of policies located in communities with a new or redrawn map. H.R. 3370 would also stop the elimination of subsidies for pre-FIRM properties that are bought and sold, which is an extremely problematic provision in Section 205 of Biggert-Waters.

“Today’s Senate vote represents a major victory for independent insurance agents, as Section 207 and the bought/sold provision of Section 205 were the two specific items that the Big ‘I’ has been asking Congress to revisit,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president for external and government affairs. “The startling pace with which Congress acted in order to fix the unintended effects of these two provisions in Biggert-Waters, itself less than two years old, should be commended.”

Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.


Fewer Americans getting health insurance through employers

Originally posted February 13, 2014 by Melissa Winn on http://ebn.benefitnews.com

Fewer people are getting their primary health insurance coverage through their employers, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday, which also reported the number of uninsured Americans has reached a five-year low.

The poll found 43.5% of Americans now get their primary health insurance coverage through their current or former employer, down from 45.5% in the fourth quarter of 2013. More people now say they have a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member — 18% versus 17.2% at the end of last year.

The poll also found the percentage of uninsured Americans fell to 16%, down from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013. While more than a month remains in the first quarter of 2014, Wednesday’s data show the uninsured rate appears to be on track to drop to the lowest quarterly level since 2008.

Although the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to have health insurance went into effect Jan. 1, it’s still too early to tell if that requirement has led to the decline in uninsured Americans, the poll says. If the uninsured rate continues to fall over the next few months, however, it could suggest the Affordable Care Act is responsible for the decline, it adds.

Several provisions of the ACA have yet to go into effect, including the mandate for employer health insurance coverage by 2015 or 2016. These provisions are expected to affect the number of uninsured Americans, as well as what types of insurance they have.

The Gallup poll also found the percentage of Americans insured through Medicaid has increased to 7.4% from 6.6% in the fourth quarter of 2013. This increase may be because some states have chosen to participate in the Medicaid expansion under a provision of the ACA, the poll adds.