In the days before Congress adjourned for the Thanksgiving holiday, the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) conducted two simultaneous nationwide grassroots action campaigns that reportedly produced more than 1,500 contacts with Members of Congress in 24 hours.
Agents responded to PIA’s call to lobby their lawmakers to secure renewal by Congress of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) and approve funding authority so the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can continue to pay claims filed by flood victims.
“With these two critical issues being decided, PIA pulled out all the stops to make sure that Congress made the right decisions,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Len Brevik. “Agents were telling Congress to honor the flood insurance claims of their customers who were insured under the federal flood insurance program, and continue to be a partner in providing terrorism insurance to small and medium-size businesses.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, PIA issued the second of two emergency action alerts to all its members across the nation, on TRIA. At the time, another grassroots alert — on flood insurance — was already underway. The simultaneous PIA grassroots campaigns were conducted using an advanced digital system that enables agents around the nation to send individual, customized communications to their Members of Congress very rapidly. Based on monitoring of e-mail responses after the first 24 hours, more than 1,500 agent contacts with Congress were made the first day.
Brevik noted that the differences between the separate TRIA bills approved by the full Senate on Nov. 18 and the House Financial Services Committee on Nov. 16 “pale in comparison to the overwhelming need to get the renewal done. We have full confidence that the remaining details can be worked out when Congress reconvenes after Thanksgiving. PIA’s message to Congress on TRIA takes a page from what Nike says – Just Renew It!”
PIA reported it is optimistic that the differences between the competing versions of TRIA legislation can be successfully negotiated when Congress reconvenes after the Thanksgiving holiday, because of the commitment of leadership in both chambers to the need for renewal.
PIA also asked members to urge their Members of Congress to approve the borrowing authority that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) needs to pay claims that have been filed by flood victims.
After the House initially voted to increase the NFIP’s borrowing authority by $5 billion on an emergency basis on Nov. 17, the House increased the borrowing authority the next day to $18.5 million and the Senate concurred. President Bush signed the bill.
After Thanksgiving, both the House and the Senate will consider broader NFIP reform bills.
“This is the new era of grassroots action,” said Brevik. “Technology enables us to combine personal contact with digital activism to deliver our messages in a powerful way. While PIA’s lobbyists work on Capitol Hill, PIA members around the country have a direct line in to their representatives’ offices and are part of the process. It’s a one-two punch.”
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