Last Ditch Effort to Graft Anti-Policyholder Provisions onto HB 3787
Recent severe weather events have Texas families and businesses digging out, evaluating property damage, and preparing necessary insurance claims. Meanwhile, the insurance industry and its cohorts at the self-styled Texans for Lawsuit Reform are trying to shove last second changes through the legislature that would roll back decades of key policyholder protections.
Thus far, lawmakers have thwarted their efforts by killing Senate Bill 1628. However, the property insurance industry – which pocketed at least $11.5 billion over the last five years, according to records compiled by the Texas Department of Insurance – wants to use another bill, House Bill 3787, as a vehicle to make a last ditch attempt to place new, onerous burdens on Texas families and businesses.
“This is a sneak attack on Texas families and businesses,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of the policyholder advocacy group Texas Watch. “The Senate should see this for what it is: a naked attempt by a group of desperate lobbyists to ram through a giveaway for the insurance industry. Senators should reject this latest assault on hardworking Texans.”
House Bill 3787 is in the Senate Business & Commerce Committee. Industry lobbyists and TLR are pushing to get the bill to the Senate floor ahead of Wednesday’s procedural deadline for bills to pass the Senate. The bill’s sponsor, Friendswood insurance agent Sen. Larry Taylor plans to graft policyholder “gotchas,” similar to those in the already rejected SB 1628, onto the bill. He has not provided anything in writing for Senators or the public to evaluate, but said he plans to add language that:
- Adds unnecessary notice provisions that criminalize policyholders and their estimators if they make innocent mistakes on valid damage estimates;
- Slashes the time policyholders have to file claims to just one year, leaving property owners with latent damage without the ability to have their claim paid; and
- Creates a burdensome process that requires policyholders to go to TDI for approval on claims deadline extensions, dumping them into a bureaucratic maze. These proposals have been rejected by policyholder advocates, business leaders, trade associations, churches, school districts, and individual Texans from every corner of the state.
“Texas families and businesses have sent a clear message to lawmakers: Texans who pay their premiums year after year deserve to be treated with respect when they have to file a valid, covered insurance claim,” added Winslow. “The Texas Senate should heed that message by sending TLR and the insurance lobby packing.”