The Texas Insurance News Daily! Texas Auto Insurance and Home Insurance News!
Insurance Over Texas is your complete Texas insurance online news resource for all Houston auto insurance, Texas home insurance, Texas business insurance.
Request Texas insurance quotes, information and breaking news at Insurance Over TX. Get daily insurance news, learn how to lower your Texas insurance rates or request a free insurance quote Texas.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Ten Tips for Hurricane Preparedness
Protect your home by keeping up with routine home maintenance. For Texas instance, keeping your roof in good condition and your foundation sound can go a long way to preventing wind and water damage. You may be able to lessen hurricane damage to your home by making some simple structural upgrades. However, if you do make any changes to your home, such as a new roof, additions or alterations, you should build to the current windstorm building code and obtain an inspection certificate called a WPI8 which is required for TWIA coverage.
Be sure you have BOTH Texas flood insurance and windstorm insurance coverage. Flood insurance does not cover wind damage and Texas windstorm insurance does not cover flood/storm surge damage. Flood insurance is offered by your agent through the federal National Flood Insurance Program.
At least once a year, take an inventory of your property. Consider videotaping a “tour” of your belongings. Keep all property records and other important papers in a location away from your home (e.g., a safe deposit box).
Insure your property for what it will cost to REPLACE your belongings rather than basing coverage on current value.
Schedule an insurance “check-up” with your agent at least once a year about your Texas home insurance.
If changes to your insurance coverage are needed, plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute. Most insurance companies cannot offer a windstorm policy when a storm appears in the Gulf of Mexico. Flood coverage requires a 30-day waiting period before it becomes effective after you purchase it.
Be sure you know how to file an insurance claim. Keep your agent’s contact information with you at all times.
Read your insurance policies and know what is covered and what is not covered. If you are not sure, discuss with your agent.
Purchase hurricane supplies such as food, water, flashlights and batteries. You may also consider a generator for electricity after a storm. Have materials ready to clean up and remove debris, such as gloves, rakes, trash bags and a chainsaw.
Most importantly, to protect you, your family and pets: learn about hurricane evacuation routes; plan what city or location you want to evacuate to in the event a storm threatens; ask friends and family to offer shelter if you need to evacuate; keep your car’s gas tank full to prepare for evacuation; and bring with you clothes, cash, bedding, food and any important family photos and mementos.
Take the time NOW to ensure that you and your family will be prepared when the next storm strikes. For more information about these tips and others, coastal residents are urged to contact their insurance agents.
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Will new hurricane model raise your insurance rates?- (Read Full Story)
The threat of hurricane damage has pushed Texas home insurance rates sky high for many coastal residents. But inland homeowners soon may be paying more, too, thanks to an updated model some Texas insurance companies use to help set insurance rates. The revised model by Risk Management Solutions (RMS) has found that risk from wind damage in some coastal locations is lower than expected, but is higher than expected in some inland areas.
Reams of new wind speed measurements indicate that hurricanes don't fall apart over land as much as previously believed, meaning they can inflict more damage on inland areas.
This is the first major overhaul to the RMS model since 2003. The new model includes information collected during Hurricane Katrina, which wracked the Gulf Coast in 2005, and the endless parade of hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004.
"The information for the most recent storms dwarfs the data" collected in previous hurricanes, says Ryan Ogaard, senior vice president of RMS.
Homeowners insurance companies use the data to help prove to states that they have enough capital to pay insurance claims in the event a hurricane pummels a state, he says the new model in a bellwether state Florida rigorously checks hurricanes models and is seen as a bellwether for other coastal states when it comes to Texas homeowners insurance and hurricanes.
Monday, 09 May 2011
BROWNSVILLE, TX--(Marketwire - May 9, 2011) - Today, a jury found the Texas insurance Windstorm Association (TWIA) guilty of breach of contract in the case of Debbie and Kevin Curtin vs. TWIA, filed in Cameron County, Texas. "The Texas legislature is considering giving TWIA immunity, meaning that if they commit fraud or a breach of contract, like here, those homeowners have very little recourse," said Robert L. Collins, attorney for Debbie and Kevin Curtin.
"I want all homeowners to know the three years of heartache and pain that Kevin and Debbie went through," said Collins.
"I want people to understand that TWIA is an association of commercial insurance companies that back losses and receive profits from the Texas Windstorm insurance policies sold. It is NOT our tax dollars. THAT is a lie.
"I want people to know about the abusive practices of TWIA and its chosen counsel.
"I want people to completely understand that TWIA desperately wants immunity to shield their deliberate systemic Breach and Bad Faith tactics as they did against Debbie and Kevin Curtain," Collins went on to say.
"Justice was done here today and we look forward to the next trial, where mental anguish, bad faith, fraud, punitive and treble damages, as well as attorney fees will be sought. If TWIA is given immunity by the Texas State legislature then homeowners will have no hope and seeing that justice is done through the courts will no longer be an option," stated Collins. "Our Constitutional right to a jury trial is about to be sold by politicians in return for lobbyist cash.
"Just imagine you're a homeowner who purchased Windstorm or Texas flood insurance coverage through TWIA and they decide not to pay because they have been granted immunity, by the state legislature, how are you going to feel then? By the way," Collins concluded, "a jury found for the homeowner in every jury trial against TWIA for its fraud and bad faith."
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
The Texas House of Representatives Insurance Texas Committee has authorized a check that would make poignant changes to how the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association operates, carriage it on to the full House for consideration.
H.B. 272 tweaks how claims disputes or matured, removes the requirement that TWIA policyholders reason inundate insurance, removes the limit value of a home insurable by TWIA, and requires TWIA to annually contention a disaster plot to the commotion Legislature.
Under H.B. 272, claimants would be authorized to solve disputes by litigation, but only after burdensome a run of choice processes.
The question of how to take adult a run at government mishaps at TWIA is one that has unclosed a run of issues surrounding the association, which serves as Texas quasi-governmental insurer of final choice for homeowners in hurricane-prone areas along the disorders coast.
After conducting an investigation, the Texas Department of Insurance discovered TWIA had been paying insurance adjusters for work they hadn't performed and paid claims based on those adjusters' reports.
TDI is also investigating the firings and severance packages given to two top TWIA lieutenants, who were dismissed late last year because of "management issues." Reggie Warren, the former head of claims at TWIA, was given more than $114,000 and a truck, which he had been using at the agency. Bill Knarr, the former catastrophe office manager, received more than $47,000.
In a Feb. 28 letter to then-TWIA general manager Jim Oliver, Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin, a Republican, criticized the association's management for lacking the "experience, competence, or trustworthiness to operate TWIA in a safe and sound manner." Geeslin added TWIA had become "hazardous to the public" (BestWire, March 1, 2011). The TDI declined to comment on the legislation.
Oliver was fired last month, and TWIA's board appointed Randy Wipf, vice president of underwriting, to serve as acting general manager (BestWire, March 23, 2011).
Meanwhile, Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio and Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood -- all members of the House Insurance Committee during the 2009 session -- allegedly pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in fees and commissions in Hurricane Ike-related suits filed against TWIA. Those fees and commissions were viewed by some as potential conflicts of interest.
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Nationwide Mutual Texas Insurance Company is looking for experienced sales professionals to fill agency positions. The company has plans to hire more than 100 new Nationwide agents by 2014 to serve the needs of customers throughout Texas.
The companies Texas insurance division plans to add about 30 new agents in San Antonio, 60 in Dallas and 20 in Austin.
“We’re looking for top sales professionals and entrepreneurs to join our team,” said Terrance Williams, regional vice president of Nationwide’s southern region. “Becoming a Nationwide agent gives you the opportunity to grow and run your own business, selling Texas homeowners insurance, Texas auto insurance, Texas business insurance and life insurance products to help consumers protect what’s most important to them.”
Nationwide offers a broad range of insurance careers and agency programs that help match sales professionals with challenging, yet rewarding occupation. These positions offer competitive compensation packages and exceptional career growth opportunities.
In addition to its statewide agent expansion, Nationwide recently broke ground on a new sales and service facility in San Antonio that will be home to about 1,000 existing and 800 new sales and service associates. The facility is scheduled to be completed in mid-2012.
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Bills Filed in Texas Aimed at Increasing Insurance Policy Transparency
Two pieces of legislation recently filed in Texas would require insurance companies to provide customers with more complete information on rate increases and expand resources available to consumers for shopping the market.
Rep. Armando Walle of Houston says House Bill 2723 and House Bill 2724 would “help consumers fully understand the premium increases imposed by insurance companies and will give consumers information on how they can shop around.”
HB 2723 concerns accident and health insurance policies. Under the measure, an insurer must notify consumers of the rate increase 60 days prior to it taking effect, according to information posted on the Texas House of Representatives’ Web site. The notice would have to include the amount of the increase and information about how to file a complaint. Additionally, the bill would require the notice to include Web site addresses where consumers can access information regarding rate increase justifications and alternative coverage options.
HB 2724 contains similar provisions for Texas homeowners insurance, property insurance and Houston auto insurance. At the time of a policy renewal, the Texas insurance company would be required to provide a side-by-side comparison of the new and old rates, as well as provide information on any changes in coverage and how to shop around. The bill also requires insurers to give the deductible in a dollar amount, rather than in a percent of the total value of the policy.
Rep. Armando Walle is serving his second term in the Texas House of Representatives and serves on the House Committee on Insurance and the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. He represents House District 140, which includes northern portions of unincorporated Harris County and the City of Houston.
Friday, 11 February 2011
Beck Reappointed as Head of Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has reappointed Deeia D. Beck of Austin to the Office of Public Insurance Counsel for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2013. The office represents Texas insurance consumers in regulatory matters relating to insurance rates, rules and forms.
Beck is the public counsel for the Office of Public Insurance Texas Counsel. She is a life fellow of the Texas and Tarrant County Bar foundations, and a member of the State Bar of Texas and Travis County Bar. She is also a consumer liaison for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and a member of the American Association for Justice.
Beck received a bachelor’s degree, Master of Business Administration and law degree from Baylor University.
This appointment is subject to senate confirmation.
Wednesday, 02 February 2011
Texas Insurance Commissioner Calls for Tougher DRP Regulations
In his Biennial Report of the Texas Department of Insurance given to the state legislature, Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin called for increased regulation of insurer-shop DRP relationships.Texas auto insurance. County mutual insurers, which make up roughly 45 percent of the auto insurance market in the state, are not required to comply with regulations regarding vehicle repair
In his report, Geeslin says the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has received complaints that insurers improperly steer claimants to "preferred" or DRP shops and that insurers are informing claimants that they may be responsible to pay for certain repair costs if the claimant selects a repair facility that is not on the insurer's list of direct repair facilities. A 2010 survey of the top five auto insurers in Texas showed that all had some kind of DRP or preferred shop program in place.
Further complicating matters, Geeslin noted that Texas law does not consistently regulate
Wednesday, 02 February 2011
ALERT: Farmers Insurance Takes Over Texas Capitol
Farmers Insurance has parked a huge bus outside the State Capitol today. If the size of the bus is any indication of the out-sized influence of the insurance industry, then Texas homeowners insurance are in deep trouble this session. Plus, Farmers Insurance has opted to replace the Texas flag with its own banner. Does this indicate the full takeover of the state by the insurance industrythat we’ve all long feared?
But, seriously… Instead of preparing to handle claims for its customers by heading to North Texas where they are experiencing widespread power outages and are anticipating significant weather-related insurance losses, Farmers has opted to use its “mobile claims center” as a prop to lobby legislators.
In a state where homeowners are already paying the highest rates in the nation, Farmers – the state’s third largest Texas home insurance carrier – has announced a rate hike set to take effect next month. Shouldn’t Farmers be using its resources to help its customers instead of lobbying lawmakers for even more insurance industry protections?
Then again, maybe it is just too much to ask a big insurance company to put its customers first.
Tuesday, 01 February 2011
Texas Windstorm Insurance Assoc. to Begin Paying Commissions Monthly
The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, the property insurer of last resort along the Texas Gulf Coast, reports that in the second quarter of 2011 it will begin paying agents’ commissions monthly.
TWIA will require agents to submit payments for gross premiums, including commissions, after which it will pay commissions to agents on a monthly basis.
To prepare for paying commissions, TWIA needs to collect banking data from each agency. Agents are asked to complete and return an authorization agreement as soon as possible.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Five Ways to Fix Texas’ Windstorm Problems
Texas is prone to hurricanes. As a result, Texas windstorm insurance is expensive in the coastal areas of the state and will remain so regardless of public policy. Over the past two decades, the Richards, Bush, and Perry administrations have all appointed insurance regulators who have attempted to dictate how much insurers can charge for coverage along the coast. The practice has failed yet it continues today.
As part of the effort to keep prices down and make sure coastal residents could find insurance, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) was created to serve as a “market of last resort” for those unable to obtain private insurance. TWIA, however, has become the largest insurer in many coastal areas and now competes with the private sector. Although technically “fire-walled” from the state’s general fund, it’s actually a taxpayer liability; other states — including Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana — have used general revenue to bail out similar entities. Texas needs to stabilize the situation. To do that, the legislature should consider five steps.
Tuesday, 04 January 2011
Texas homeowners insurance premiums among highest in U.S.
All three of the major insurance companies that provide homeowner policies in Texas have filed rate increases with the Texas Department of Insurance - increases that have already taken effect or will take effect by March.
The state's main windstorm insurer, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, has also raised rates by 5 percent starting Saturday for all policy renewals in 2011.
The latest private insurer to file an increase is Allstate Fire and Casualty, one of Allstate Insurance Co.'s subsidiaries that offers Texas home insurance.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Allstate will raise Texas home insurance rates in January
Allstate will greet its Texas home insurance customers with an insurance rate increase in the new year.
The insurer plans to increase rates 5.4 percent statewide for 450,000 Allstate Texas Lloyds customers starting Jan. 20. That's about a $64 increase for the average policyholder.
Those customers' rates last rose 18 months ago, by 5.5 percent.
Allstate Texas Lloyds stopped selling new policies in Texas in 2006. Also that year, it began to drop wind coverage in renewing 65,000 policies along the coast, and stopped renewing coverage on thousands of nonbrick homes in Harris County and others that border counties immediately on the Gulf Coast.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Plundering the middle class - 35 percent of American households live on $35,000 or less each year. Bailouts a success for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans
The middle class is being slowly dismantled piece by piece. New Census data released this week highlights a continuing trend that is pushing more average Americans into a perpetual struggle to stay financially afloat. New data shows that the median household income is $50,221 in 2009 which is down from $52,029 in 2008. This drop of 3.6 percent comes at a time when many U.S. households are struggling to make payments on mortgages and more importantly, find jobs. The only group that grew their household income was for those making $180,000 or more (top 5 percent). This growing inequality gap demonstrates that this recession is actually widening the chasm between the working and upper-classes of our society.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Texas Coast Loses Insurance Coverage
This hurricane season is especially difficult for some area residents who recently found out they are losing their insurance coverage.
State Farm Insurance company is not renewing the policies of Texas residents who live within a half mile of bays and coastal waters. That is effecting residents from Seabrook to LaPorte...
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
TWIA to move ahead with 5% rate hike
The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association will raise premium rates by 5 percent next year on thousands of commercial and residential policies.
The association’s governing board approved the increases in a 5-3 vote at its quarterly meeting Tuesday in Galveston...
Monday, 08 March 2010
A.M. Best Revises Outlook to Positive for Ratings of American Strategic Insurance Group and Its Members
A.M. Best Co. has revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a-” of American Strategic Insurance Group (ASI) (St. Petersburg, FL) and its members. (See below for a detailed listing of the companies.)
The ratings reflect ASI’s continued underwriting profitability and solid risk-adjusted capitalization resulting from prudent underwriting, innovative pricing systems, effective reinsurance programs and a sound overall risk management focus. As a result, significant surplus growth has occurred in recent years, complemented by continued support from the parent company. The positive outlook contemplates that operating performance and risk-adjusted capitalization will continue to trend favorably in the near and long term, as ASI begins to further diversify its geographical footprint...
Monday, 15 February 2010
Timely advice for Texas home insurance owners to purchase flood insurance
The Feb. 8 opinion piece “Don't believe the flooding myths,” by Michael D. Talbott, director of the Harris County Flood Control District, really should be required reading for every homeowner in Southeast Texas. It probably should be passed out along with the ream of papers already given to new Texas homeowners at the time of closing. It's that important.
Misinformation about flooding hereabouts — and the costs of and need for flood insurance — is rampant . This costs Harris County homeowners hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Damages related to flooding from Hurricane Ike in 2008 totaled $2.2 billion, but that is just the amount that was paid by flood insurance. For the 80 percent of Harris County homeowners not covered by flood insurance, the total costs are anybody's guess...
Monday, 01 February 2010
Hurricane Ike Claims Total Nearly $12B in Texas
Hurricane Ike, which struck Galveston on Sept. 13, 2008, has proved to be the costliest weather catastrophe in Texas history by a large margin. The storm racked up nearly $12 billion in windstorm and flood insurance claims in the state...