NAIFA: There’s Strength in Our Numbers

National Underwriter reporter Warren Hersch raises an important question in a new article: “How can [NAIFA] stay relevant as a force on Capitol Hill and in the states when its membership has been declining…?” (“Weighing the Prospects for NAIFA–and the Industry,” Sept. 27, 2010)

Warren was referring to our entirely transparent and voluntary disclosure of our membership total, which today hovers in the 50,000+ range. Yes, that figure represents a decline, but there is so much more to the story than raw membership numbers. NAIFA boasts a storied 120-year history, and for decades we have helped shape the legislative and regulatory landscape that has allowed our industry to thrive and that has protected the financial wellbeing of all Americans.

I can promise you we are not going away.

Today, NAIFA is as relevant as ever, and perhaps even moreso. We have more members than any other organization in the industry. Our market share among our core constituency is 20% higher now than when our membership total was at its peak. NAIFA’s political action committee is the largest among our peers. It ranks among the top 1% of all 4,100 PACs registered with the Federal Election Commission. In the last election cycle, the national IFAPAC and the 50 state IFAPACs contributed approximately $3 million to federal and state candidates and committees.

Our grassroots activities are also second to none. NAIFA has a unique political advantage — we have a constituent member in every legislative district across the country who is a voter, a taxpayer, and a job creator. We have members who serve as personal legislative contacts for nearly every member of the House and Senate, as well as others who are contacts for legislators on the state level. When we go to the Hill with a constituent group of four or six NAIFA members to meet personally with a congressman or senator, you can’t tell me we don’t have an impact and make a difference. Of course we make a difference. Of course NAIFA is relevant.

Yet, Mr. Hersch also makes a valid point. He notes there are an “estimated 200,000 agents who are not — and should be — NAIFA members.” NAIFA represents the interests of everyone in the industry, even those who don’t pay their fair share. I remain convinced that as long as we have a clear mission and execute it well, we will remain effective and influential irrespective of membership figures. Yet, just think of the resources we could bring to bear if everyone who benefited from NAIFA also contributed to our success by becoming a member, contributing to the PAC, and participating in our political involvement initiatives. On this point, Mr. Hersch and I agree: it’s time for our agent community to contribute to the effort. It’s time for the freeloading to stop.

Terry K. Headley, NAIFA President

A Fond Farewell

This month’s issue has a legend, Jack Bobo, saying farewell. I’m looking forward to seeing how your leadership fills the space.

Bob Sukolsky

Indiatlantic, FL

I was afraid this was going to happen…you retired before I did and now I will have to finish my 32-year career without your insightful writings. I so looked forward to the back page and your To the Point. Maybe I’ll just have to retire, too.

Stephen Leavitt

Bangor, ME

Dear Mr. Postal…

I’m Sure You’re probably a bit shocked that anyone might have read your column in the obscure trade publication, National Underwriter, but I assure you I did on Friday. I was intrigued by the article title, “GOP Poised to Take Back Congress.” (September 13, 2010) I was interested to hear what you may have to say on the subject.

What puzzled me, however, was this portion of your article: “…top officials in the House Republican caucus recently noted that only one or two members of their caucus have even a slight grasp of economics, and are dependent on Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., to articulate the caucus’ position on economics.” I was incredulous.

It may be true that top GOP Congressional Members may have told you that. I accept on faith your statement. But for you to repeat it with complete acceptance is a mistake. I do not disagree that a number of GOP House Members went along with TARP, but there were many more than one or two who did not.

For a solid list of Members who are widely accepted as having excellent credentials regarding economics, give a call over to The Club for Growth in D.C. There you will find at least 16 who rate higher than Ryan, who is regarded as no slouch on the subject.

The real news is that the caucus leadership is beginning to realize their own shortcomings in this area, and to recognize that they have quite a cadre among them who do understand the field. Perhaps one of the changes the House will experience in the coming year will be more reliance on the talents of solid economic conservatives.

Charles S. Cohn

Granite Bay, CA