Just days after the Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel moved to block State Farm’s 20 percent increase in homeowners insurance rates, state Sen. Kelly Hancock on Thursday filed a bill to abolish the agency. The measure by Hancock, a Republican who represents parts of Dallas and Tarrant counties, would eliminate one persistent critic of State Farm and leave residential and small business consumers without a voice on rate matters before the Texas Department of Insurance. Just last week, Public Insurance Counsel Deeia Beck called on the state insurance commissioner to stop State Farm Lloyds – the company’s homeowners subsidiary – from charging the higher rates and to order refunds if the insurer refuses to cancel the premium hike.
“Why would lawmakers even consider eliminating the one thing that gives Texas policyholders a fighting chance against Big Insurance?” asked Alex Winslow of Texas Watch, a consumer group that follows insurance issues. He said that by objecting to State Farm’s rates, OPIC is performing its statutory duty to represent the interests of consumers. “This state office with a handful of employees and a tiny budget shouldn’t be threatened with abolishment simply for doing its job,” Winslow said. The agency was created by the Legislature in the early 1990′s under an insurance reform bill.
Read More: The Dallas Morning News