Eye on Texas Blog

Eye on Texas Blog

A Broken System: Texas Mutual’s Special “Justice”

TM Special Justice

Texas Mutual Insurance Company is garnering the attention of the press, local officials, and state legislators for all the wrong reasons.

In a joint Texas Tribune and Austin American Statesman investigation this month, reporters revealed Texas Mutual’s exclusive deal with Travis County prosecutors. The deal, which allows the private insurer to pay the salaries of public fraud prosecutors, has drawn criticism for at least appearing unjust.

“When it comes to courtroom ethics, the means to an end is as important as the end itself. While Travis County’s partnership with Texas Mutual may be legal, county leaders and prosecutors should ask, “Is this ethically the best action to take?” The program looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quack like a duck. Isn’t it a duck? It looks like corporate money is being used to imbalance justice’s scales.”   –Former Texas State Representative Jerry Madden

However, this is not Texas Mutual’s first attempt to tip the scales of justice.  In 2011, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in a 5-4 decision that Texas Mutual and other workers’ compensation insurers could not be sued for bad faith practices. As a result, workers’ compensation providers can intentionally or maliciously deny a valid claim, but injured workers cannot hold the insurers accountable.


Posted September 29, 2015

Eye on Texas Blog

All the “Justice” Money Can Buy

scales of justive

Texas Mutual Insurance Company was created amidst a crisis. 25 years later, the company is creating a crisis all its own.

Local and state officials are now reviewing the legality and appropriateness of an exclusive deal in which the private insurance company Texas Mutual pays the salaries and expenses of Travis County district attorneys in exchange for prosecution of the company’s fraud cases.

The troubling arrangement was revealed earlier this month in a joint Texas Tribune and Austin American Statesmen investigation, which has since sparked editorials about the district attorney’s partiality in pursuing Texas Mutual’s fraud cases in the Dallas Morning News and the Austin American Statesmen. (more…)

Posted September 22, 2015

Eye on Texas Blog

Preparing for Hurricane Season

The National Hurricane Center has announced the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. The storm, named Danny, is currently charted to hit the Caribbean islands, but could cause some tropical storms for the Gulf of Mexico and Texas.

Here are 5 things every Texan do in preparation for hurricane season or any natural disaster:

  1. hurricane dannyReview your insurance policy every year to make sure you have the coverage you need. Policyholders need to have enough coverage to fully protect themselves in the event of a total loss. In particular, pay attention to the exclusions and policy limits written into your policy and be aware of the deductible and type of replacement cost. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Big Data Drives Your Car Insurance Bill

Credit Score Pricing 2

What do you think is more important to your insurance premium: a clean driving record or bad credit?

In a groundbreaking new special report that reviewed 2 billion car insurance quotes across the country, Consumer Reports revealed that your spotless driving record and claims history may have less of an impact than you think.


Posted August 18, 2015

Eye on Texas Blog

Perry’s Lame Health Care Retort

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Former Gov. Rick Perry lamely defended his record on access to health care. When pressed about our state’s chronically high rate of citizens without health insurance, Perry said that isn’t how he “keeps score.” He trotted out the same, tired talking points touting what he calls “sweeping tort reforms” passed more than a decade ago. Perry ignores key facts about the failure of these so-called “reforms” to improve the overall health or safety of Texas patients. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

84th Legislative Session Highlights

Thanks to the support of the thousands families and businesses across the state who made calls, signed petitions, sent emails, and shared their experiences, we had our most successful session in years. Together, we worked towards a Safe Texas by blocking dangerous anti-policyholder legislation and supporting bills to improve workplace and community safety. Here’s what our session looked like.  (more…)

Posted June 1, 2015

Eye on Texas Blog, Press Releases

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.” (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

HB 3787 Severely Limits Home, Commercial Insurance Claim Deadlines

The Texas House is scheduled to debate House Bill 3787 tomorrow. The bill severely and arbitrarily shortens the amount of time policyholders have to make a claim or file suit against their insurance carrier for the wrongful denial or underpayment of their claim. The legislation: 

  • Severely shortens the time homeowners and businesses have to file a property insurance claim and effectively prohibits policyholders with latent damage from receiving full payments for needed repairs.
  • Allows government to pick winners and losers by putting captive home and commercial policyholders on worse footing than any other party to a contract in the state.
  • Creates a giveaway to for-profit insurance carriers by arbitrarily restricting the ability of homeowners and businesses with valid disputes to require full payment.

Click here to learn more: http://bit.ly/1zP8Ea2 [PDF].

Eye on Texas Blog

Sign the Petition: Protect Policyholders

SB1628 Action Graphic 2 Primetime

Join 1,400 other Texans who told their lawmakers to stand for Texas policyholders. Sign the petition here.

Policyholders pay premiums in exchange for a promise from their insurance company that claims will be paid in full and on time. Too often insurers fail to hold up their end of the bargain by unfairly denying, delaying, or underpaying valid claims. That’s why strong laws with stiff penalties – like those that have been codified in the Insurance Code for decades – are necessary to deter bad conduct.

However, Senate Bill 1628 gives to industry and takes from policyholders.

The bill rolls back 40+ years of important policyholder protections. It incentivizes low-ball settlements, immunizes insurance adjusters, agents, and employees, severely restricts when claims must be made, and creates “gotcha” provisions that allow insurers to frivolously deny claims.

Without meaningful legal protections, Texas families and businesses are left defenseless.

Please sign our petition to get Texas lawmakers to protect their constituents against unfair claims handling by voting against Senate Bill 1628.

Posted April 30, 2015

Eye on Texas Blog, Press Releases

TX Senate Chooses Insurance Immunity Over Texas Families & Businesses

The Texas Senate gave preliminary approval to the Insurance Immunity Act – SB 1628 – today. After a procedural vote and a few “clean up” amendments expected tomorrow, the bill heads to the Texas House. Following is a statement from Alex Winslow, executive director of policyholder advocacy organization Texas Watch:

The Texas Senate chose to protect deny, delay, underpay insurance industry tactics, making it easier for insurance companies to cheat their customers. The affect of this legislation – if passed by the House – would be to undermine crucial policyholder protections designed to ensure fair, timely payments to Texas families and businesses with valid insurance claims.

The bill’s author and supporters are selling a line that SB 1628 somehow helps consumers. It does not. You don’t help policyholders by taking away their rights.

This bill is fundamentally flawed and is facing growing opposition within the business community and a groundswell of grassroots opposition from Texans across the state.

We look forward to the debate in the House.

Click here for more information about the bill’s dangerous provisions, as well as the bill’s opposition.

Research & Reports
Research & Reports

The Texas Watch Foundation, a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization, conducts research and public education activities on consumer law, consumer protection and civil justice issues. Read More »

Court Watch
Court Watch

Court Watch, a program of the Foundation, documents the role and impact of the Texas civil court system on Texas families and Texas public policy. Read More »