RIMS Members Play Important Role in State, National Legislative Initiatives

Over the last few years, RIMS has become more actively involved in voicing its support of or opposition to legislation and/or regulations that impact the risk community. At the federal level, the Society has been vocal about its support for the proposed Optional Federal Chapter that would expand the federal government’s role over insurance regulation and streamline the 50-state regulatory process. On the state level, RIMS has expressed its disappointment in the New York State Insurance Department’s newest draft proposal on producer compensation that would impose greater burdens on consumers, permit producers more time to provide necessary information and exempt insurance contract renewals from the disclosure requirements altogether.

RIMS will continue to advocate for its nearly 10,000 members, on these and other regulatory and legislative issues, but certainly can’t do it alone.  The Society needs its members to become more active not only on federal risk-related issues and policies, but also on those at the state level.  For this purpose, RIMS created the State and Regulatory Affairs Program to actively engage members in state and local issues of interest to them and their chapters. Since the creation of this program in 2007, RIMS has seen tremendous growth in chapter government affairs efforts.

To encourage greater member and chapter participation at the state and federal levels, RIMS published a new Legislative Handbook that was developed as a guide to help chapters create external affairs programs of their own or re-energize existing programs, and activate grassroots efforts more effectively by using the Legislative Action Center. The handbook also explains the process for chapters to interact with and provide insights to RIMS External Affairs Committee and to assist government affairs staff in developing positions on key issues.

The Legislative Handbook is no doubt an invaluable resource, but there are other ways that members can become involved at the grassroots level. For example, this year RIMS held legislative conferences in Sacramento, California; Austin, Texas; and the 11th annual RIMS on the Hill in Washington, D.C.

At both state conferences, many chapters gathered to meet with legislators, introduced them to the Society and provided background on the risk management profession. More importantly, chapter members discussed and asked for support on issues such as contract certainty and workers compensation reform. In D.C., RIMS members from the U.S. took to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress to lobby on such issues as the optional federal charter, legislation addressing the non-admitted or “surplus lines” market, as well as legislation to create an Office of Insurance Information within the U.S. Department of Treasury.

RIMS On the Hill reached an all-time attendance record this year, boasting more than 20 first-timers, many whose chapters sponsored the trip. “I was very impressed with the number of members whose trip was sponsored by chapters, especially given the economic situation,” says Nick Kapatos, chair of RIMS External Affairs Committee and director of RIMS Houston Chapter’s external affairs program. “I would encourage them to talk up their experiences to their fellow chapter members with the hope that we see more members attending future legislative events.”

RIMSCOPE talked to others who attended RIMS legislative conferences.

Why did you decide to participate in the conference?

“With state chapters that included Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, our first Texas legislative conference introduced RIMS to our state politicians and their staff. It was a chance to explain our role as risk managers, as well as what we believe is important regarding insurance regulatory issues. In talking to my fellow chapter members, I think there is agreement that our state efforts will ultimately influence what happens at the national level.

Charles E. Gillenwater, Dallas Fort Worth Chapter, risk manager for the City of Mesquite.

 Do you think that meeting in person with state legislators helped gain support for RIMS positions?

“I am a big believer in face-to-face meetings with our elected officials and their staff. Our visit to Sacramento was very early in the bill process, so we were focused more on introducing RIMS. I felt we gained a lot of traction by presenting ourselves as risk managers and subject matter experts who could offer assistance in understanding the impact of proposed legislation. Frankly, I think it was a surprise to some that we were not rabidly pushing our own agenda! I look forward to the opportunity to meet with our representatives locally and demonstrate the value of our expertise.”

Diana J. Rich, ARM, RMPE, Orange County Chapter, workers compensation program manager at California Joint Powers Insurance Authority.

As a first time attendee of RIMS on the Hill (D.C.), what was your experience like?

“It was a great experience. I had an opportunity to meet my local congressman and learned that he was different than I expected. More importantly, he agreed to co-sponsor our legislation. We can make an impact!”

Richard E. Rabs, AIC, ARM, Chicago Chapter, member of RIMS External Affairs Committee and vice president of claims and risk management at Veolia Transportation.

For more information on RIMS Government Affairs Program or federal legislative/regulatory activities, contact Kathy Doddridge, RIMS Government Affairs Director, at 202-251-9277 or Kdoddridge@RIMS.org.

For information regarding RIMS State and Regulatory Affairs Program, contact Nathan Bacchus, RIMS State and Regulatory Affairs Associate, at 212-655-6215 or nbacchus@RIMS.org.

 

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RIMS Members Play Important Role in Legislative Initiatives