PIANH President Lyle W. Fulkerson, Esq., and PIANH President-elect, Keith T. Maglia, met with representatives from each of New Hampshire’s congressional offices—including a thorough discussion with Democrat Rep. Chris Pappas—last Wednesday to discuss PIA’s federal legislative priorities.
During the meetings, a top advocacy request was for a long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, along with the need for legal protections for insurance agencies that provide insurance products to state-legal cannabis businesses, and the importance of abolishing the Federal Insurance Office. The PIANH representatives also discussed how they are seeing businesses faring during the reopening of the state.
Regarding flood insurance, PIA’s top priority is a multiyear extension of the NFIP that includes provisions that would improve the program for policyholders. According to insurance producers, it is important that the reimbursement rate for the Write-Your-Own policies does not get cut so it continues to make business sense for independent agents to sell and provide service for NFIP policies.
As it is structured currently, the NFIP includes grandfathering clauses that keep rates from rising too quickly for policyholders to afford their insurance. The structure must maintain continuous NFIP coverage to continue to qualify for these rates. PIA advocates that the clause be expanded to include continuous flood coverage, allowing homeowners to purchase private flood insurance without losing the grandfathered NFIP rates. Additional requests include funding for improved mapping and mitigation measures.
Federal safe harbor
PIA successfully advocated for the passage of the SAFE Banking Act (H.R.1996) in the U.S. House in April 2021, which would provide a federal safe harbor for financial services and insurance businesses providing products to state-legal cannabis businesses.
PIANH leaders had the opportunity to personally thank Rep. Pappas for co-sponsoring the resolution and thanked a staffer from Rep. Ann Kuster for her support of the legislation as another co-sponsor. In meetings with Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s offices, PIANH emphasized the importance of this legislation as more states legalize cannabis for recreational use.
Although states may legalize cannabis for various uses and regulate it at a state level, it remains as a schedule 1 drug at a federal level. Insurance agencies already sell policies to cannabis businesses legal in their states, a detail the PIANH leaders highlighted. The SAFE Banking Act simply would ensure these insurance agents are not risking federal penalties for selling products such as workers’ compensation and general liability insurance to cannabis businesses legal in their state.
Federal Insurance Office
Due to the success of state regulation of the insurance industry, PIANH advocated for the abolition of the Federal Insurance Office. State regulation allows for each insurance department to regulate the industry as it impacts residents of the state. The New Hampshire Insurance Department can better respond to the needs of policyholders in New Hampshire than a federal agency.
The pandemic’s effects on businesses
In addition to advocating for PIA’s federal legislative priorities, PIANH’s leaders answered questions representatives had about the current business environment in the state. Fulkerson and Maglia thanked each congressional representative for providing support to small businesses during the past year.