Ted Gibson is COO of Deland, Gibson Insurance
Each April, the Big “I” (the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America) organizes and hosts a legislative conference in Washington D.C. The annual event, first organized in 1977, offers independent agents from every state the opportunity to visit Capitol Hill and to meet, greet, and lobby their respective Congressmen and Senators on local insurance issues affecting independent agents.
Having grown in influence and stature over the past 39 years, the Big I Legislative Conference is now the largest Property/Casualty insurance political gathering of its kind. This year, I decided to attend the Big “I” conference along with other agents and representatives from Massachusetts and more than 1,000 agents from across the U.S.
Why I decided to attend this year’s event
As an officer of a Massachusetts independent insurance agency, I decided to attend this year’s event because I have always had an interest in politics and how legislation impacts the industry in which I work. In addition, as the Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Association of Independent Agents Young Agents Committee, I also attended the conference as a representative of that committee. Also in attendance at this year’s Legislative Conference were many MAIA Board members and agent members.
The multi-day event is a mix of meetings and in-depth issues briefing sessions which give a lot of insight into the legislative process. While in D.C., I was able to visit with a few of the elected representatives from Massachusetts including Congressman Seth Moulton, Congressman Joe Kennedy and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.
Making the effort to travel to Washington and to speak with our representatives allowed us, as independent agents, to push our agenda forward. There are many issues that are impacting both the independent agency system and the insurance industry today which need the support and voice of independent agents.
A few of the topics agents focused on during this year’s conference included discussions to extend and reform flood insurance in September 2017 and to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac tax” provisions because of the impact these will have on small businesses.
For those who have toyed with the idea of attending the Big “I” Legislative Conference, I can honestly say that it is worth an agent’s time and effort. I definitely recommend that other Massachusetts agents should consider attending a future Legislative Conference. Overall being in D.C. with other Mass. agents was a great experience and an interesting dynamic. We were there together, not as competitors, but as members of the same team, supporting the same policies that will help all of our businesses to grow and succeed.
To be able to meet with our Congressmen and Senators face-to-face is an invaluable opportunity, in my opinion, to educate them on the importance of independent insurance agencies, the American Independent Agency System, and how the laws they pass in Washington affect us and our businesses.
How you can attend
The easiest way to learn more about the Big “I” Legislative Conference and how to attend is to contact either the MAIA, MAIA Board Members, or the MAIA Young Agents Committee. You can also submit a comment here and I will get in touch.