As Americans come to terms with their likely presidential candidates for the 2016 election cycle, the insurance industry is on track to outstrip the record $58.7 million it spent on federal parties and candidates during the 2012 season.
Comprised of health, life, property and auto insurance companies, agents and brokers, the industry is a major contributor to federal campaigns. In 2013, it spent more than $154 million on federal lobbying efforts, including on flood insurance, terrorism risk insurance, data security and various tenets of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Much of these lobbying efforts conform to expectations of financial services industries, says Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics and OpenSecrets.org, which compiles data on political spending.
“Of the nearly $55 million that went to parties and candidates [in 2012], 68% went to Republicans, who have long been the recipients of most of this category’s giving,” Novak said.
Indeed, 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 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.
That’s why it’s slightly surprising to see Hillary Clinton at the head of the pack when it comes to recipients of insurance dollars in 2015 and 2016. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has captured $827,781 in industry contributions – far outstripping runner-up Ted Cruz, who earned $481,056 from insurance professionals, and who has since dropped out of the race.
Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, two more casualties of the Republican primary season, were also relatively big earners, gaining $425,338 and $420,646 from the industry, respectively.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York rounded out the top five recipients of the past year with $327,895 in campaign donations.
Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has failed to gain significant support from the industry, receiving just $19,577 from industry groups. He trails less popular and former candidates like Bernie Sanders ($212,351), Carly Fiorina ($76,230) and Mike Huckabee ($38,631).
By company, the top spenders in insurance from 2015 through the present are:
- Starr Companies: $15,062,700
- New York Life Insurance: $1,570,192
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $1,545,471
- AFLAC Inc.: $1,215,224
- National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors: $1,191,000
- Metlife Inc.: $1,061,109
- Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America: $1,005,975
- Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers: $872,948
- USAA: $788,615
- Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance: $754,029
- Prudential Financial: $726,907
- Liberty Mutual: $701,528
- Northwestern Mutual: $690,694
- TigerRisk Partners: $674,200
- American Council of Life Insurers: $610,376
- American Financial Group: $534,536
- State Farm: $511,125
- Association for Advanced Life Underwriting: $490,000
- Zurich Financial Services: $477,785
- Nationwide: $476,801
Health and life insurers seem to spend the most on lobbying efforts, while property/casualty companies spend more on parties, political action groups (PACs) and individual candidates.
Collectively, the industry donates most on election years. Already, insurance professionals have given more than $47.1 million in 2016.
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