This year’s legislative conference was held from April 25-27th at the Grand Hyatt Washing Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Each year, the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents sends a delegation to the Big “I” Legislative Conference and Convention. Sponsored by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, the Big “I” is a three day opportunity each April for agents to meet with their Senators and Congressman to discuss the issues and challenges facing their businesses and the independent agency system in general. At this year’s convention, agents advocated about issues involving Insurance Regulatory Reform, extension and reform of the National Flood Insurance Program, health care reform, taxes, and reform to the Agent Licensing system for nonresident agents.
To get a better idea of what the agent experience is like at the Big “I” Legislative event, we turn to Patrick Dempsey, of the Dempsey Insurance Agency in Norwood. The following is his first-hand account of his experience at this year’s conference. The article first appeared in the MAIA’s Young Agents Committee newsletter and we thank both Mr. Dempsey and the MAIA for letting us reprint it. You can view the original April newsletter containing this and other articles about the Big “I” conference here.
Third Year In by Pat Dempsey
This was my third trip down to DC and the Big “I” Legislative Conference, and was by far the most productive year I have experienced. In the past, issues such as the passage of national health care and the budget took center stage and muted our voice. This year (an election year) our voices felt much more powerful and there could be no denying our impact as a collective group of agents not only from Massachusetts, but from around the country. I have always described the experience as a way to see behind the curtain of DC. There is no more powerful message than going into those officials’ offices and saying what needs to be heard. This year the Massachusetts group was joined by four members of the Young Agent Committee, Ben Cavallo, Kevin Gallant, Heather Cochrane and myself. I strongly promoted this event to the committee during the past year and was pleased to see the excitement for the trip to catch on. For Ben and Kevin it was their first trip and it was certainly a strong showing capped with a meeting in Senator Brown’s office with the Senator himself. This year our most pressing issues dealt with topics such as Flood Policy reform and a long term extension of the plan, a national agent licensing bill referred to as NARAB II and caution around insurance regulatory reform on a federal basis. Personally the trip was a stunning success as we met with nearly every Massachusetts Representative and our message was delivered directly. I worked hard to set a meeting with Representative Stephen Lynch from the 9th district and that day it looked as though he would be unable to attend. But by a stroke of luck, at the last second he was able to return to the office and sit with us for the second half of our meeting. Representative Lynch took a visible interest in the Flood Reform information (the house has passed extension plans the last two years, only for them to stall in the senate). At the conclusion of the meeting with Representative Lynch’s office I had a good feeling about the day of meetings ahead for the Massachusetts agent delegation.
|L-R Glen Davis, Lee Gaudette, Congressman Lynch, Ben Cavallo, Patrick Dempsey|
The next meeting confirmed those feelings when we sat down with Senator Brown and Nat Hoopes, his advisor on Insurance issues. The meeting went very well and Nat is actually a former winner of the Big “I” Jr. Classic Golf Tournament. Senator Brown brought up a tax proposal against S-corporations that is being proposed to keep down student loan rates. The senator recognized that many agencies are S-corporations and that those agencies would face huge tax increases based on the legislation being proposed. While the senator expressed his desire to fix student loan rates, he wanted us to know that putting the weight on small businesses is not the way to fix the problem. In all 2012 was a great year for attending the Big I legislative conference, and next year promises to be even better. Hopefully other young agents will join us in 2013.
The MAIA says that anyone interested in joining next year’s delegation should contact either Patrick Dempsey or Ben Cavallo of the Young Agents Committee or else to get in touch with Dan Foley at the MAIA. Perparations for next year’s delegation will likely begin after the new year in 2013.
The association is especially interested in attracting young agents to the conference because as Melissa Murphy, head of the MAIA’s Young Agents Committee explains, “Involving the younger generation of agents in these face to face meetings is important, as they are the future of our industry.”
Here is a list of who made up the Massachusetts delegation in 2012:
- National Director Joseph Leahy of Springfield;
- MAIA Chairman Raymond Gallant of Acton;
- Chairman-Elect Richard Perras of Easthampton;
- MAIA Director Lee Gaudette, III, CPCU of Whitinsville;
- MAIA Director Glen Davis, CIC of Needham Heights;
- MAIA Member-at-large Timothy LaRovere, LIA, CPCU of Everett;
- MAIA Member-at-large John Connolly of Somerville;
- MAIA Member-at-large John Olivieri, Jr., CIC, LIA, AAI of Middleboro;
- MAIA Young Agents Committee member Ben Cavallo of Mansfield;
- MAIA Young Agents Committee member Kevin Gallant of Action;
- MAIA Young Agents Committee member Patrick Dempsey of Norwood; and
- MAIA Young Agents Committee member Heather Cochrane of Wellesley.