John Neely Kennedy (R) represents the state of Louisiana in the U.S. Senate and sits on the committee of jurisdiction over most insurance issues, which is the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Senator Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 2016 and, given his short time there, has had a major impact on a variety of issues, particularly flood insurance. Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Senator Kennedy was state treasurer of Louisiana for five terms, as well as a partner in a law firm. The senator is known for his memorable quotes, which often lighten up tense moments in the Capitol.
Why Senator Kennedy is important to agents:
Senator Kennedy is one of the authors of bipartisan legislation introduced in the 115th Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for six years: the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) NFIP Act. PIA National supports many of the reforms in the senator’s bill, like increasing incentives for mitigation, improving mapping tools, reforming the claims and appeals process, and allowing rates to increase to more actuarially sound rates while capping how much they are permitted to rise each year.
However, PIA National chose not to endorse the SAFE NFIP Act because it included a steep cut in the fund set aside to administer the program, known as the Write-Your-Own (WYO) reimbursement rate. Carriers use the WYO reimbursement rate to pay administrative expenses as well as agent commissions, among other costs. WYO carriers have made it clear that they intend to pass any cuts to their reimbursement rate to agents via their commissions.
PIA National advocated for a provision in the SAFE NFIP Act that would serve as a floor for NFIP agents’ commissions. While we were pleased with the inclusion of such a floor in the SAFE NFIP Act, PIA National prefers a more robust protection for agent commissions. We will continue to protect agents’ interests as this process continues.
Senator Kennedy’s SAFE NFIP Act is likely to be an influential bill as Congress works to find agreement on reforms to reauthorize the NFIP on a long-term basis in 2019. PIA National will continue to work with Congress to ensure that the long-term reauthorization of the NFIP does not come at the expense of independent insurance agents.