Fung Opposed Flood Notification Bill as Insurance Lobbyist

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


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Prior to becoming Mayor of Cranston, Fung served on the City Council, and worked as a lobbyist for MetLife

In 2005, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, while on Cranston City Council and working for MetLife, lobbied against a bill at the Rhode Island General Assembly that required insurers to notify policyholders if their policy coverage didn't include flood insurance -- a stance his campaign is defending, and his Republican gubernatorial opponent Ken Block's is taking to task.

"Allan originally registered as government relations council for MetLife in opposition to a prior version of the bill (S. 0327)," said Rob Coupe with the Fung campaign, noting that the bill that eventually passed was S.0327A, which was an amended version of the original bill.  "The amendment came about as a compromise in the language and MetLife, through their registered counsel, Allan Fung, dropped their opposition."

The original bill opposed by Fung, S 0327, would have required insurers to provide a notice to policy holders advising that a standard fire insurance policy may not provide coverage for damage caused by floods, and provide information on the national flood insurance program administered by FEMA.

"Allan, as a lobbyist, was hired to kill the bill, or at least gut it, which he did," said Jeff Britt, spokesperson for the Block campaign.  "He lobbied as City Councilor for his employer to kill a Republican bill that was intended to help the very people he was supposed to represent."

Legislation in Question

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The bill was introduced in 2005, was cosponsored by Republican Senator David Bates of Barrington.  Bate spoke to the battles of insurance policy notification legislation at the State House. 

"Over the years, there have been a number of bills introduced on this issue," said Bates.  "The [insurance] agents have always been trying to get the insurance companies to better notify policy holders.  Generally, the insurance companies were opposed primarily because it would cost extra money for mailings, and they didn't want to advertise any possible negatives with their policies." 

Coupe spoke to Fung's opposition to the legislation as a City Councilor. 

"The original version of this legislation would have added additional government red tape, making it more expensive to do business in Rhode Island and would have increased the cost of insurance for consumers.  Government overreach in areas such as this has been a longstanding impediment to creating a favorable businesses climate in Rhode Island.  Such a lack of flexibility frequently holds back economic development in our state," said Coupe.

Coupe continued, "As Governor, Allan Fung will continue to work with regulators to cut through the red tape and to help business thrive and create more jobs, just as he has done as Mayor of Cranston.  In contrast, Mr. Block seems to be promoting more government regulation, just as he did when he voiced his support for Obamacare.

Britt voiced the vantage point of the Block campaign on the matter.

"I think it shows that Fung is the ultimate insider and what's wrong with Rhode Island," said Britt.  "Here he was, a City Councilor, who pledged to work on taxpayer's behalf, and he worked against them on behalf of his employer.  It's exactly what's wrong with the state. Insiders have been in control for too long, and that's what this next election is about."

Cranston Flooding

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Cranston, which experienced record breaking flooding later in 2005, as well as 2010, recently faced flooding issues once again in June. 

Cranston resident Kevin Barbaro, whose basement was flooded in 2010, spoke to the issue of flood insurance.  "I live right on the river," said Barbaro.  "In 2010, I got six feet of river in the house.  I have a finished basement, and I own a bookstore -- I lost 6 or 7 thousand books in the flood."

Barbaro noted that he got $8000 from FEMA, but the damage was assessed at over $70,000.  Barbaro didn't have insurance. 

"I don't know why you wouldn't want people know if they have coverage or not," said Barbaro.  "At least they should have the knowledge.  I rolled the dice, so I can't complain. Flood insurance is expensive."

Barbaro said that he tried to get insurance after the flood, but couldn't get it.  "Nobody would touch it," said Barbaro.  "I have neighbors who have insurance, and their premiums are $600, $700.  Now the federal government is attempting to require that I get it, and it's going to cost me upwards of $8000.  I could have had a policy before Congress decided to act on this, and gotten grandfathered in.  I'd wish I'd had known."



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