Eye on Texas Blog

Eye on Texas Blog

Rathgeber Appointed Insurance Commissioner

Governor Rick Perry has appointed Julia Rathgeber, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s Deputy Chief of Staff, as Texas Insurance Commissioner. Her appointment comes after Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman was not confirmed by the Texas Senate for a full term.

The Texas insurance market faces important challenges. With higher premiums, larger deductibles, and expanded exclusions, Texas policyholders are paying more and getting less. Policyholders deserve an insurance commissioner who will fight for them everyday by fostering a balanced insurance market in which prices are fair, coverage is adequate, and claims are paid in full and on time.

We are hopeful that Commissioner Rathgeber will work to restore balance to the market. And, we look forward to working with her to put Texas policyholders first. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Kitzman Not Confirmed, Leaves TDI

After public concern over Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman’s anti-policyholder decisions during her tumultuous 21-month tenure, the Texas Senate has chosen to not confirm Commissioner Kitzman for a full term, according to numerous media reports.

Senator Glenn Hegar, Chair of the Nominations Committee, said, “Gauging the votes in the last couple of days, it does not appear that there is a majority on my committee or on the Senate floor for that confirmation.”

As a result, Kitzman left office at the end of the recently concluded legislative session, reportedly confirming to her staff that Monday was her last day. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

House Votes to End Some Junk Auto Policies

The Texas House voted to prohibit insurance companies from selling stripped down “named driver” auto insurance policies this week. These cut-rate, low coverage policies have become more prevalent in the Texas market as some insurance companies market them to drivers, many of whom don’t know their coverage has been slashed.

What’s wrong with named driver policies? Because of the gaping holes in these policies:

  • More uninsured drivers are on the road;
  • Innocent drivers are forced to bear the cost of repairs and medical expenses after an accident; and
  • The cost of uninsured motorist coverage is more expensive for drivers with meaningful coverage.

The bill, HB 1773 by Rep. Ed Thompson, bans the use of named-driver policies outright, ensuring that anyone who drives your car is covered under your insurance policy unless you choose to specifically exclude them. As Rep. Craig Eiland said during the debate, the bill “stops the sale of junk policies that mislead people and don’t give them coverage.” (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Texas Watch Poll 2013

By intensely wide margins, Texas voters believe that insurance customers who have claims unfairly denied, delayed, or underpaid should have easier access to the courts with stiff penalties for insurers engaged in such conduct, according to a recent statewide public opinion survey conducted by Hill Research Consultants, a nationally known Republican opinion-research firm.

This session insurance lobbyists and their clients are working hard to restrict your access to the courts if you believe your insurance company has handled your claim unfairly. And, they have filed a boatload of bad bills to do just that.

So, we commissioned the statewide public opinion survey to find out what Texas voters think. The message is clear. Texas voters – across all geographic, partisan, and political lines – want stronger legal protections from rogue insurance companies. They believe that insurance companies routinely drag out lawsuits, and they want the courts – not state agency bureaucrats – resolving disputes between claimants and insurance companies.

And, 7 in 10 voters will reward legislators who believe it should be easier (or at least not harder) for a policyholder who believes their insurance claim has been handled unfairly to hire an attorney to represent their interests. 51% hold this position”strongly.”

The results speak for themselves. Check them out for yourself.

(more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Don’t Rush Into Receivership

There have been heated discussions around the Capitol this week about the possibility that TWIA could go into receivership. This would be a drastic step that is unnecessary given that additional funding options are available to replenish the Catastrophe Reserve Trust Fund and shore up TWIA’s finances.

Business leaders and legislators have expressed concern abut the impact receivership could have on the association’s bonding authority, as well as the ability of homeowners and business leaders to secure and maintain third party financing like mortgages and business development loans. Jumping to receivership would have a far-reaching impact on economic development and job creation, not to mention the impact it would have on policyholder claims.

Also, according to the Quorum Report (subscription required), TWIA’s “actuarial committee was told today that having the state’s windstorm insurer of last resort go into receivership could make it more difficult to receive financing to pay future storm claims or to obtain reinsurance.” This means that TWIA would have difficulty obtaining the post-event bonds and reinsurance necessary to pay for claims from a future storm. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Dick Weekley Rewrites History

During a recent visit to Midland, Dick Weekley attempted to rewrite history. According to an article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, he claimed that Texas businesses were in a “lawsuit crisis” when he and a group of corporate CEOs founded the self-styled “Texans for Lawsuit Reform” in the mid-90s.

That’s strong rhetoric, but it just isn’t true. There simply wasn’t a crisis. Here are the facts. (more…)

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 »