For many independent agents, political activism is part of daily life—not just a once-a-year visit to Washington, D.C. Today, during the 2020 Virtual Big “I" Legislative Conference, the Big “I" presented three awards to honor legislative involvement in the states.
The Big “I" gave the 2019 Sidney O. Smith Award—the association's highest honor for legislative activism—to Chris Heidrick, principal, Heidrick & Company, Sanibel, Florida. Heidrick has been chair of the Big "I" Flood Insurance Task Force since 2014. As one of the foremost experts on this issue, he has been called upon numerous times to testify before Congress on behalf of the Big "I." Members of Congress have sought out his expertise on the issue as they grapple with reforming and modernizing the NFIP. Heidrick is a perennial participant in the Big "I" Legislative Conference and state lobbying days. Year after year he is also a major donor to InsurPac while encouraging others to participate as well.
The 2019 Herndon Award went to the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana (IIAI) for successfully encouraging members to run for state elected office. The IIAI has members in both the state Senate and Indiana House of Representatives, including the Majority Leader. The state association has consistently increased its support for InsurPac, including an increase in its number of major donors. Additionally, IIAI has increased the number of agents that attend the Big "I" Legislative Conference year in and year out and successfully and effectively launched grassroots when called upon.
Finally, the Big “I" also honored Greg Sandrock with the 2019 Barney Burns Award for tireless advocacy for political involvement, not just in his state, but throughout the country. As chair of the Big “I" Crop Insurance Task Force, he has specifically engaged crop insurance agents to be greater supporters of InsurPac, as well as to attend the Legislative Conference. In her presentation earlier today, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois) recognized Sandrock for his work. She thanked him for “representing Illinois on the Big 'I' Board and for your work on crop insurance." Sandrock has traveled on his dime to heavy crop states to speak at various conventions and conferences, all while educating attendees about what the Big "I" is doing to protect the Federal Crop Insurance Program and why political engagement is so important to keep lobbying effort strong. He has used those venues to encourage InsurPac support, putting his money where his mouth is by maxing out each year himself.