Press Release: The Blue Tarp Bills (SB 10 and HB 1774)
Ware Wendell, Executive Director of Texas Watch, released the following statement in response to the filing of SB 10 & HB 1774 (i.e., the "Blue Tarp Bills"):
"SB 10 and HB 1774, more aptly referred to as the "The Blue Tarp Bills," lessen penalties for insurers and prolong the rebuilding process for Texas communities. Texans purchase insurance to protect us in our time of need. When insurers cheat their customers by denying, delaying, and underpaying valid claims, our entire state suffers. Families, businesses, churches, and schools need full payment from their carriers to rebuild after disaster. Lessening penalties and pushing cases into already-clogged federal courts only makes it more likely insurers will leave property owners in the lurch in order to further pad their profits. If insurance lobbyists have their way, Texas will be blanketed in blue tarps. The Texas Legislature must stand firm against this attack on their constituents and communities."
1. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has determined that the litigation rate is only 1.5% to 2% of claims. (Page 10 of TDI Report.)
2. TDI has determined that there is not "a clear pattern of average premiums increasing greater than the statewide average in areas experiencing increased amounts of attorney/PA involvement and litigation." (Page 75 of TDI Report.)
3. TDI has determined that the homeowners insurance market in Texas "has become less concentrated with more competition." (Page 72 of TDI Report.)
4. TDI has determined that insurers do not reopen claims in significant numbers absent a lawsuit. This means that policyholders are being forced into litigation by their insurers in order to receive fair treatment. (Page 33 of TDI Report.)
5. Texas homeowners insurers have pocketed over $4.5 billion dollars in underwriting profits in the time they've been crying "crisis." They have netted more than the national average in this timeframe as well. (See TDI and NAIC data at www.texaswatch.org/protectpolicyholders. See also page 54 of TDI Report.)
7. The Blue Tarp Bills are not limited to hail claims; they apply to all property damage claims, including those caused by tornadoes, fire, and burst pipes. The word "hail" never appears in the bills. The bills impact all property owners -- families, businesses, churches, and schools alike. (See proposed Sec. 542A.002 of the TEX. INS. CODE in the legislation.)
Founded in 1998, Texas Watch is a non-partisan, non-profit citizen advocacy organization that is active on issues related to policyholders, other consumers, and public safety. For more, please visit http://www.texaswatch.org/protectpolicyholders.