DC Influencer: Q&A with Leigh Ann Pusey, CEO, American Insurance Association

Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association, discusses financial and regulatory reform with Jaimy Lee.

PRWeek: How has the American Insurance Association's (AIA) messaging been different since last fall's economic changes and the start of the Obama administration?

Pusey: Our efforts have transitioned into how to navigate this new environment - it's new politically and new in focus. For us, we've had a long list of priority issues at the federal and state level that dealt with regulatory reform, with a 10-year battle here to improve the effectiveness of the regulation of the insurance industry. The economic crisis has created an environment very open for discussion of regulatory reform.

PRWeek: What are the main issues that the AIA is focusing on for the remainder of this year and through the start of 2010?

Pusey: Congress has set an agenda, along with the administration, that contemplates systemic risk. That, in many ways, is our agenda. I would also put corporate governance in that bucket, whether it's a say on pay for executives or it's the shareholder proxy access issues that are both regulatory and legislative.

We are not health insurers, but components of our lines of insurance - be it workers compensation, the auto liability system, or the fact that our guys are large employers - means that there are aspects of healthcare reform that could adversely impact programs.

PRWeek: How has the intensity and focus of the healthcare debate changed the way in which the AIA is communicating?

Pusey: One challenge is to figure out how we can break through? Part of that is facilitated through Congress' natural breakdown of the issues. Within the committees of jurisdiction, financial reform is still their top priority. No one is standing up at a town-hall meeting screaming about systemic risk and who's a tier-one company and who isn't.

Our communications efforts always try to be targeted. We are still very focused on the financial world and the financial committees.

PRWeek: What main channels does the organization uses for its outreach?

Pusey: Often, our most effective tool is our members. Communications to our members - so that at the right time we can call them into action - is still a very valuable, perhaps traditional, but irreplaceable line of communication for us.

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