Home & Auto Insurance

Eye on Texas Blog

Cart Before the Horse

In order to raise funds for the beleaguered Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, regulators at TDI are considering rules to impose a surcharge on property insurance policies sold along the Texas coast. This means higher insurance costs for homeowners and drivers in an area of the state hit hard by sky-high insurance costs (not to mention the severe restrictions on policyholder legal rights if/when the next storm hits).

Instead of putting more of the burden on policyholders, TDI should force private insurance companies to hold up their end of the bargain. Back when Hurricane Ike hit, the law said that insurance companies should bear the burden of the storm’s insured losses. Instead, they’ve been let off the hook while policyholders have been picking up the tab.

The folks at TDI are getting the cart before the horse. In our comments to the agency, we say that before even considering another hike in the cost of insurance, private insurance companies should be forced to fulfill their obligations. (more…)

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VIDEO: Texas Home Insurance Premiums Among Highest in U.S.

When you renew your home owners insurance this year, expect a bigger price tag. Those hails storms, tornadoes, grass fires and hurricanes across Texas are to blame.

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“The cost of the bad weather in Texas has already been priced into the cost of our home insurance. It has been priced into the cost of our home insurance for a long time. So for insurance companies and their lobbyists to suggest that we need to dramatically increase the cost of insurance this year, next year and the year after that because of weather, just doesn’t make sense. We’re already paying for that,” Alex Winslow with Texas Watch said. (more…)

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Senator Urges Insurance Commissioner to Reject Rate Hikes by “Big Three” Home Insurers

A state senator called on Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber Friday to reject premium increases from the state’s three largest home insurers. Those increases, filed by Allstate, Farmers and State Farm, are currently under review by Rathgeber and the Texas Department of Insurance. The increases, ranging from 6.5 percent to nearly 15 percent, will impact more than two million homeowners, according to Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston. Allstate and Farmers are already implementing the higher rates with policy renewals this year, while State Farm customers will see higher premiums beginning in February. (more…)

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EDITORIAL: State Officials Must Not Roll Over on Insurance Rate Hikes

The state’s three largest home insurers are seeking major increases in premiums, and the Texas Department of Insurance and new Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber need to stand up for consumers. The agency can reject any proposed rate hikes it regards as excessive, and that looks likely with this latest round of increases. (more…)

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State Farm, Farmers, Allstate Raising Home Insurance Rates

The big three home insurers in Texas are ringing in the new year with hefty premium hikes for their policyholders.

Allstate, Farmers and State Farm have notified the Texas Department of Insurance that they are increasing rates for most current and new customers by an average 6.5 percent to 15 percent to offset projected losses. More than 2 million homeowners will be affected.

The Insurance Department will review the rate hikes. It can reject any increases deemed excessive. (more…)

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EDITORIAL: Insurance Rates Still Call for State Action

The good news, if you can call it that, is that Texas no longer has the highest homeowners insurance rates in the nation. Unfortunately, we’ve only slipped to No. 3.

The average annual cost of the most commonly sold policy in Texas is now $1,578 as compared to $1,933 in Florida and $1,672 in Louisiana. The national average is $978.

The slight decline is welcome in Texas, but misleading. For most consumers the bottom line is that annual premiums are still going up as the coverage for those policies declines. (more…)

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Texas Home Insurance Rates Are No Longer No. 1

Texas homeowners are no longer paying the highest insurance rates in the nation. But their premiums rank third among the states and are still well above the national average, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The latest figures from the NAIC, released Monday, indicate that two other coastal states — Florida and Louisiana — now rank first and second in premiums paid by homeowners. Those states were just below Texas a year ago, but both saw larger annual rate increases than Texas in recent years.

The average annual cost of the most commonly sold policy in Texas was listed at $1,578, well above the national average of $978. That figure represented an increase of about 1 percent from last year. (more…)

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$117.5 million Farmers Insurance settlement in works for Texas homeowners

Hundreds of thousands of Texas homeowners may be poised to share a $117.5 million settlement between the state and Farmers Insurance, more than a decade after the company first clashed with regulators in court over its rates.

Under the agreement, the company would issue refunds or premium reductions to current and former customers. It would also get credit for past premium cuts. The total would be one of the largest insurance settlements in state history.

Farmers admits no wrongdoing in the proposed settlement, which a judge is set to review in January. The Insurance Department had accused the company of illegally reducing coverage in its homeowner policies and charging customers too much. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

TDI Should Back Safer Roads, Industrial Accountability & Better Insurance Options

Earlier this year, the previous Insurance Commissioner was forced to vacate her position when the Texas Senate chose not to confirm her appointment in part because of her unwillingness to consider the needs of policyholders. Times have changed.

New Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber has asked for our input on policy recommendations she should include in the agency’s biennial report to lawmakers. We are happy to giver her our 2 cents. So, we told her Texans deserve common sense reforms that will make our roads safer, guarantee that industrial plant operators are accountable to the community, and beef up coverage and competition in the home insurance market. (more…)

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Watchdog tips: 5 ways to gain consumer power when dealing with insurance

Frustrated that Texas insurance companies always seem to have the upper hand? Me, too. In recent months, I switched insurance companies for coverage of my car, my house, my health and my life.

My insurance shopping experience can be summed up by a famous line from Socrates, one of the original watchdogs: “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.”

Not being an expert on products or services you are about to buy is OK. The idea is to learn as much as possible before making a decision. (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 »