The Texas Senate Committee on Business & Commerce, chaired by Sen. John Carona, issued its recommendations for the current legislative session this morning. Among them were pro-policyholder reforms that, if implemented, will improve transparency and empower policyholders to shop our complex insurance market more effectively.
Texas Watch, a citizen advocacy group active on property insurance matters, applauded the committee’s recommendations as a good start toward addressing the lack of transparency in the Texas insurance market.
“Texans pay too much and get too little for their insurance. They are told to shop the market but don’t have the tools necessary to make informed choices. These reforms are a good start toward empowering policyholders to make better informed choices and generate real competition,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch. “If implemented, these reforms should lead to better transparency in the market. Chairman Carona and his committee should be applauded for standing by these important reforms.”
The committee recommended the following pro-policyholder reforms:
- Standard Home Insurance Policy
The committee recommends that lawmakers adopt legislation to “ensure that consumers are offered a standard policy option for coverage and comparison shopping.” This will allow consumers to make better informed apples-to-apples comparisons when shopping for insurance. By helping policyholders make smarter decisions, this reform should lead to more competition, lower prices, and stronger coverage options. [Recommendation 3(2)(1); p. 30]
- Prohibit Insurer Use of Customer Inquiries
The committee recommends “disallow[ing] insurers from refusing to issue, refusing to renew, adjusting rates for, or cancelling a homeowners policy based on any consumer inquiry.” This reform will ensure that policyholders are not penalized by their insurance carrier for asking questions about available coverage under their policy. [Recommendation 3(4)(1); p. 32]