Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, insurance industry lobbyists such as Nat Wienecke of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association have continued to do their jobs. Like most of us, they’re work has gone virtual, too.
“APCIA adapted quickly to this new virtual office setting, including virtual lobbying,” said Wienecke, the organization’s senior vice president of federal government relations. “Our team demonstrated our organization’s agility, pivoting to address new advocacy and operation realities.”
Wienecke said that APCIA has had a very busy 2020, with the pandemic shaping much of the agenda. The group worked, in part, to oppose “several concerning federal and state retroactive business interruption preproposal” that would have harmed insurers, he said, among other accomplishments.
“We also developed the Business Continuity Protection Program, a comprehensive policy proposal for managing future pandemic risk.,” Wienecke said. “Additionally, in the states, we defeated or significantly amended major workers compensation presumption proposals that would have mandated coverage presumptions and created additional burdens and costs for employers already struggling to stay open, reopen, and maintain their workforce.”
As well, Wienecke noted APCIA backed liability reform and protections in more than 30 states, and the group “protected important tax provisions for insurers in multiple states.”
Of course, pandemic related issues won’t go away in 2021. At the same time, there are also many other APCIA agenda items for the coming year. Below, Wienecke answers a series of questions from Carrier Management Editor Mark Hollmer about APCIA 2020 accomplishements and 2021 agenda, and those responses are detailed below.
Q: What 2020 issues remain on the table for 2021?
Wienecke: We will continue to promote the Business Continuity Protection Program as the leading consumer proposal for managing future pandemic risk.
On Capitol Hill, we also will continue our work to ensure no lapse in the National Flood Insurance Program as well as working toward a long-term NFIP reauthorization with important and helpful reforms.
Q: What new lobbying issues will be high on your list for 2021?
Wienecke: APCIA’s Board of Directors endorsed robust policy goals that will continue our work towards advocating for stronger mitigation and resilience efforts to protect consumers and reducing the losses from climate-related catastrophes, while supporting innovation and competition. We will continue to work with Congress to ensure increased support and funding for mapping, wildfire suppression measures, and natural disaster prediction and mitigation. We also will continue our work to increase transparency in third party litigation financing and avoid federal mission creep, while preserving the state-based regulatory system, that has worked well for more than a century.
Q: Is technology – InsurTech – becoming a lobbying issue for insurance? If so, in what way and why?
Wienecke: The insurance industry supports improvements in efficiency, new product offerings, and expanded data capabilities offered by emerging technologies such as catastrophe models, drones, digital mapping, specialized apps, 3-D modeling, and artificial intelligence tools to help insurers better serve customers and process claims expeditiously.
Q: How is APCIA approaching the incoming Biden administration? Any new concerns?
Wienecke: APCIA looks forward to working with the Biden Administration on key issues impacting our policyholders. Early next year, we will meet with members of Congress and administration officials. We will introduce new members and administration officials to APCIA and the vital role the property casualty industry plays in the economy by providing financial security to families, individuals, communities, and businesses.
Q: Do insurers fare better under a Republican or Democratic administration?
Wienecke: Insurance is a non-political issue. While different parties can give more or less emphasis to individual issues, all elected officials support a robust property casualty industry to be there when disasters strike. The industry is an important element of the United States emergency response infrastructure.
Q: In terms of APCIA’s lobbying agenda, what are you most excited about for 2021?
Wienecke: We hope Congress will prioritize an infrastructure bill with a focus on resiliency, mitigation, sustainability, and climate risk. We also need to continue work to keep our highways safe. We will continue to push for the development of an objective method for measuring marijuana impairment for motor vehicle operators and establishing an objective marijuana-impaired driving standard. As more states are legalizing marijuana, we need a test to tell how high is too high to work or drive.
Q: In terms of APCIA’s lobbying agenda, what are you most concerned about for 2021?
Wienecke: The industry faced unprecedented challenges in 2020, and we expect 2021 will be punctuated by ongoing pressing issues of great consequences to the marketplace, our economy, and society. Our advocacy goals position APCIA to tackle the most urgent challenges and unique opportunities facing our industry, including reducing social inflation that drives up costs for consumers and ensuring the principle that insurance pricing be risk-based with an action-oriented agenda to address the underlying societal issues that can make insurance unaffordable for some drivers. APCIA and our members will continue to work with policymakers on innovative solutions that strengthen the property-casualty insurance marketplace for the benefit of families, individuals, communities, and businesses.
Q: Is there anything else on top of your lobbying list for 2021?
Wienecke: Key areas for attention in the coming year include continuing our work to tackle social inflation and lawsuit abuse, protect contract sanctity against threats of retroactive coverage, address the challenges associated with catastrophe insurance (including issues brought into focus by the pandemic and leveraging the industry role in risk mitigation, resiliency, and sustainability), preserving risk-based pricing, and advancing social equity and inclusion.
APCIA’s 2021 advocacy priorities also include encouraging innovation and modernization of the state insurance regulatory system and improving and protecting state-based workers’ compensation insurance.
APCIA will also continue its work to confront auto insurance cost drivers affecting affordability and availability; foster increased international trade and market access through restricting proposals to limit cross-border reinsurance and reducing tariffs that increase insurance costs; and maintain a sound taxation structure and defeating revenue related measures that undermine that structure.
Additionally, we will continue advocating for policymakers to ensure that autonomous vehicle owners control and can grant access to vehicle-generated data; and a uniform, workable set of data privacy and security standards that continue to support competitive and risk-based insurance markets.