Is Hillary Clinton the smartest choice for insurance professionals?

Is Hillary Clinton the smartest choice for insurance professionals?

Is Hillary Clinton the smartest choice for insurance professionals? On the surface, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton looks extremely unpopular with insurance professionals. The industry, which historically leans right in both voting and political donation patterns, has been outspoken in its opposition to many of her positions – even calling her public health insurance option proposal a “roadblock to reform.”

Yet certain data raises questions on the industry’s real position.

According to information collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs political fundraising tracker, Clinton is the recipient of by far the largest amount of industry dollars. As of July 2016, the former Secretary of State has received more than $1.2 million from insurance companies and lobbying groups, outstripping runner-up Ted Cruz by nearly 100% and Republican nominee Donald Trump by more than $1 million.

The figures are hardly an anomaly for the industry. In 2008, the insurance sector – which includes health, auto, life, and property/casualty companies – donated $1.26 million to Clinton’s campaign for president, making her the third-highest recipient of cash from the industry that year. She also received $397,110 for her 2006 re-election to the Senate.

Without data showing just who is making these donations, it’s difficult to speculate on reasons for the industry’s support. Just last month, after all, several prominent insurance trade groups spoke out against Clinton’s renewed calls for a government-funded public health insurance option.

“A government-run plan would underpay doctors and hospitals rather than driving real reforms that bring down costs and improve quality,” America’s Health Insurance Plans said at the time. “It’s time we focus instead on broad-based reforms that will ensure the affordability and sustainability of our healthcare system.”

Health insurance agents have also been outspoken in their opposition to a public option, saying it would “further squeeze commission” and hinder their ability to assist consumers with coverage choice – potentially even forcing them out of the market.

Yet industry organizations continue to fund Clinton’s campaign, alongside donors from industries including securities and investments ($41 million), lawyers and law firms ($23 million) and pharmaceuticals ($3.8 million).

By contrast, Trump – while counting insurance among his top 10 largest industry donors – has received just $111,645 from the sector.

The gap may be explained in part by differing approaches in campaign fundraising by the two camps. Trump has financed much of his campaign himself, including $13 million of the $19.4 million raised in 2015. Large corporate donors have also mostly stayed away from Trump, and 34% of his campaign funding is coming from individual donations.

It is here that prominent insurance professionals may be acting as individuals. Pamela Newman, president and chief executive officer of the Newman Team at Aon Risk Services, donated $25,000 to the Make America Great Again single-candidate super PAC supporting Trump, for example.

Outside of the presidential race, the insurance industry is solidly conservative in its political sending efforts. The industry’s top contributor – Starr Companies – spent more than $15 million on conservative groups from 2015 to 2016, and the Republican Party currently outstrips the Democratic Party $19.7 million to $9.6 million in donations in 2016. In fact, the only time the industry gave more heavily to Democrats since OpenSecrets began tracking contributions was in 1990, when the party captured $7.3 million in insurance spending compared to $7.1 million given to Republicans.

Independent agents are also among the sector’s most right-leaning groups. More than 70% of the $1.9 million in contributions from the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America and the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers – the group’s two biggest spenders – went to Republican candidates and the Republican Party.

By company, the top spenders in insurance from 2015 through the present are:
  1. Starr Companies: $15,062,700
  2. New York Life Insurance: $1,570,192
  3. Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $1,545,471
  4. AFLAC Inc.: $1,215,224
  5. National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors: $1,191,000
  6. Metlife Inc.: $1,061,109
  7. Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America: $1,005,975
  8. Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers: $872,948
  9. USAA: $788,615
  10. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance: $754,029
  11. Prudential Financial: $726,907
  12. Liberty Mutual: $701,528
  13. Northwestern Mutual: $690,694
  14. TigerRisk Partners: $674,200
  15. American Council of Life Insurers: $610,376
  16. American Financial Group: $534,536
  17. State Farm: $511,125
  18. Association for Advanced Life Underwriting: $490,000
  19. Zurich Financial Services: $477,785
  20. Nationwide: $476,801

Related stories:
Clinton unveils controversial insurance proposal the industry calls a “roadblock to reform”
Trump Said to Propose Moratorium on New Financial Regulations
  • Thoughtful 8/24/2016 1:11:50 PM
    Give to the Clinton Foundation and you will get extreme favors. Insurance execs know that the Democrats have perfected pay to play and their current candidate is one of the best in the world at that, and Trump keeps saying it does not matter what is given, he will not use that to influence him. Of course, more is given to the Democrats from both left and right leaning entities because it is the money.
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  • JK 8/24/2016 2:11:28 PM
    You got to be kidding. How is a person who lies be good for the insurance professionals?
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  • ARJ 8/24/2016 2:16:45 PM
    What does this write up have to do with headline? Both candidates are smart.

    So the securities industry has donated well over $100 million to Clinton for well over a year, and very little to Trump. Why? They obviously think she and her administration would bank them loads of dough. This happens in politics, but let's not delude ourselves in thinking that what is good for the country can be measured by self-interested and crony political donations.
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