What the property/casualty insurance industry can expect with the Biden administration

On January 20, in a historic inauguration ceremony surrounded by U.S. soldiers guarding against domestic terrorism — before a field of 200,000 illuminated flags representing Americans who could not attend the ceremony because of the coronavirus pandemic — President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office.

Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), today released the following statement:

“Every four years—for more than two centuries—the United States has celebrated its Constitution, and that historic document’s invocation of “We, the People,” through the orderly and peaceful transfer of power atop the government’s executive branch. With today’s inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, that solemn tradition continues in our nation’s capital only two weeks after unprecedented lawlessness descended upon Washington, D.C.

The U.S. economy is facing extraordinary challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the U.S.’s insurance industry will continue to provide essential financial protections to individuals and businesses while at the same time employing millions of Americans and paying billions of dollars in taxes to support crucial government services. The industry-supported Insurance Information Institute congratulates the Biden-Harris administration as it takes office. We also stand ready to provide its policymakers with the Triple-I’s unique, data-driven insights on insurance to inform public policy.”

The Biden administration has listed COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change among its top priorities.

In coming months, the property/casualty insurance industry is likely to encounter a frenetic pace of legislative activity on many issues affecting its operations. Here are just a few:

Climate Change –  Senator Dianne Feinstein’s proposed Addressing Climate Financial Risk Act, intended to help federal regulators understand and mitigate risks from climate change within the financial system, would require a Federal Insurance Office (FIO) report on how to modernize and improve climate risk insurance regulation.

“The insurance industry is more directly affected by climate risk than other areas of the financial system,” said Feinstein’s press release. The report would be modeled on FIO’s 2013 report on modernizing state insurance regulation.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act, which is modeled after the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act enacted after 9/11. However, the bill has yet to gain widespread support. The insurance industry has advanced several pandemic risk mitigation proposals of its own.

Congress could deliberate reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program, which was last done with the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

Full federal marijuana legalization remains daunting, with a slim Democratic majority, according to Politico, but piecemeal legislation with wider bipartisan support, such as banking access for cannabis businesses and medical marijuana research, may have a better chance to advance. Conflicting state and federal laws have discouraged insurers from participating in the cannabis-related business market.

An expected increase in the corporate tax rate would mean higher tax liabilities for property/casualty insurers.

Risk-based insurance pricing is an issue that’s expected to heat up, and insurers will have to explain to a new set of legislators that the business of insurance hinges on predicting the level of risk a policyholder represents and charging a premium that corresponds with that level of risk.

On January 28, at Triple-I’s virtual Joint Industry Forum, CEOs from five major insurance industry trade associations will share their perspectives and public policy priorities for 2021. Click here to register for the complimentary event.