“Every piece of legislation produces winners and losers”. This tidbit was something I learned very early with my involvement in NAIFA. Terry Headley would mention this phrase whenever a bill had potential ramifications for our membership. Because of that, we at OCI are very careful whenever we see a bill concerning our industry. A great example of this was a seamlessly innocent bill introduced last year in the unicameral (LB632). The bill would have allowed group carriers to collect agent’s fees along with their premiums without the need for a consultant license. OCI was the only entity to see the possible dangers of this and we stood our ground. We felt that the bill would ultimately harm the agent/broker over time. We worked diligently to prevent the bill becoming law although initially it was thought that it would fly though with little or no opposition. We even took the risk of alienating some of our peers with our stance but felt it was the right thing to do. Our reasoning was that many carriers were not systematically able to collect these fees on smaller groups. We felt that if the legislation was enacted, small independent agents/brokers would have to end up billing and collecting these fees from the client on their own. Our legislators argued that agents/brokers would make more money and that it was working in most other states. My involvement with professionals in these other states told a much different story. If not for the opposition to the bill, these problems would now surface in Nebraska as they have in other states.
So, the bill was not passed and will carry over to next year. In the meantime, on May 27th, 2015, CMS issued CCIIO Technical guidance (CCIIO2015-0001). The gist of the guidance is that carriers would not be able to collect these fees under their premium billings. Had this bill passed, agents/brokers would be responsible for billing and collecting the fees like we initially feared. OCI was the only General Agent to A) Be aware of the bill B) Understand the ramifications of the bill C) Testify in Lincoln of the danger to the Agent/Brokers D) Raise opposition to the bill as it progressed.
OCI continues to protect and serve the Agent/broker from adverse legislation even though it is not our main business purpose. Working closely with our industry associations, we will always do our part to assure the agent/broker of their ability to help their clients. Let me ask you a question if you are not using OCI, Does your current General Agent protect you, and serve you in the same way that OCI does?