ICYMI: TDI's Arbitration Hearing Highlights
For the past two months, we've been sounding the alarms on an insurance industry proposal to force consumers who have been low, slow, or not paid on their valid claims into the secret, biased process of arbitration. Last week, our fight reached the ears of the insurance commissioner in a rare public hearing at the Texas Department of Insurance. Here's what happened:
1. Commissioner David Mattax started the hearing by asking five questions:
VIDEO: Keep the Kangaroo Court Out of Texas Insurance
Dealing with your insurance company is hard enough. Now, insurance lobbyists want to make it even harder for policyholders get their claims paid in full and on time. Their latest scheme would force policyholders into the biased, secretive process of arbitration, a kangaroo court where the decision maker is chosen and paid for by the insurance company.
Arbitration Clause Made Public. It's As Bad As We Thought
After fighting the release of documents related to its request to add pre-dispute arbitration to its home insurance policies, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance relented. So, now the public can see firsthand what the company is up to.
You can see for yourself below, but here are the highlights:
State Policyholder Advocate Opposes Arbitration Proposal
The Office of Public Insurance Counsel has weighed in opposing a proposed pre-dispute binding arbitration provision currently under consideration by the state insurance commissioner. OPIC is the state office tasked with representing policyholders in rate and form filing decisions.
In her letter to Commissioner David Mattax, Public Counsel Deeia Beck writes of arbitration generally:
Don't Sell Our Rights, Commissioner
The Texas insurance commissioner is considering an industry proposal that would allow an insurance company to buy your legal rights for a few dollars a month.
This is unprecedented. Never has the insurance department approved a request to allow an insurance company to include what is called a pre-dispute binding arbitration clause in its policies. In fact, it has been part of the agency's published guidelines to reject any insurance policy that includes such language.
Statement on ATF Findings in West Fertilizer Fire
Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch, released the following statement:
The ATF held a press conference today speculating that the fire at the West fertilizer plant was a criminal act. They offered no scientific evidence for their conclusion, only that they claim to have ruled out other possible causes. Today’s media event did little to clear up the confusion about the events leading up to the fire at the West plant three years ago.
CFPB to Rein In Forced Arbitration
90 days. 90 days until consumers might regain vital protections against powerful corporations.
Last Thursday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules to prohibit dangerous class-action bans buried in credit card, banking, and loan contracts.
Protected by “gotcha” provisions, banks and credit card companies can steal small sums from millions while preventing consumers from holding them accountable in court. This system, called forced arbitration, pits David against Goliath, and with the ban on class actions, plucks the slingshot from David’s hand.
Insurance lobby groups are pointing to the number of consumer complaints filed with the Texas Department of Insurance as "evidence" that consumers are happy with their insurance companies. But, 75% of consumers filing complaints with TDI in 2015 were never counted.
Keep Washington Out of Texas Courts
Washington lobbyists are attacking our state courts. A bill (HR 3624) making its way through Congress would send state-based legal disputes into overburdened federal courts.
In other words, valid legal disputes over property rights, business contracts, insurance claims, and a host of other issues involving Texas citizens and businesses would be forced into the quagmire of the federal courts.