PIA Asks House Committee to Develop Public-Private Partnership to Protect Small Businesses Against a Future Pandemic
WASHINGTON — A public-private partnership is the best way to protect against the financial repercussions of a future pandemic, stated the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA National) in written testimony submitted today for a hearing of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance.
This hearing follows a September Congressional Roundtable in which PIA National participated and expressed its support for the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA), H.R. 7011, introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
While the nation reels from the latest exponential surge of the COVID-19 virus, which has killed over 250,000 Americans to date, Congressional efforts are underway to prepare the nation financially to cope with future pandemics. Today’s hearing, entitled, “Insuring Against a Pandemic: Challenges and Solutions for Policyholders and Insurers,” focused on PRIA, which proposes a public-private partnership between the federal government and the insurance industry.
“Without a federal government backstop, it is not clear that insurers would—or could—provide coverage for losses resulting from pandemics,” said Jon Gentile, vice president of government relations at PIA National. “But with a federal backstop, losses that arise out of future pandemics could be insurable.”
Gentile said the key is a public-private partnership such as one envisioned under PRIA, which PIA has endorsed as a framework for a solution. He noted, “A legislative solution must be affordable for small businesses. We are also working to strengthen it by incorporating thoughtful provisions from other proposals, particularly those that would ensure the affordability and thus the participation of small businesses.”
Any proposal should be focused on the future, so that businesses can budget for it and make informed decisions about participating, he added. To that end, PIA National strongly opposes any attempt to pursue a policy that would retroactively rewrite existing business interruption provisions.
PIA National also urged Congress to pursue a solution that works within the framework of the insurance industry and does not force independent insurance agents to sell non-insurance products. Any solution should utilize the existing insurance framework. Proposals that would require insurance agents to deliver a non-insurance product to consumers risk undermining the success of any such program.
“A public-private partnership that utilizes the existing insurance framework could, over time, cultivate the development of a private pandemic market that operates independently of the federal government,” Gentile said.
Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA’s web address is www.pianet.com