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Monday, 06 February 2012
AMARILLO, TEXAS -- According to a new study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Texas auto insurance premiums are among the highest in the country.
The report shows state-by-state data given to insurance regulators, policymakers and consumers.
State Representative John Smithee said the Texas insurance rates are pretty good right now, but the large amount of urban area in the state is a big factor causing auto insurance premiums to be on the rise. More people in an area result in more traffic accidents, and with the current inflationary trends increasing the prices of vehicles, the cost of repairing them is going up, as well.
"The things that we have to watch are number one- the cost of repairs," Smithee said. "The other thing is medical care and the cost of medical care because that can be a driver in higher rates."
Fortunately for drivers, insurance companies constantly compete with one another to gain customers.
"What we're primarily interested in here in Texas is to make sure that we continue to have a competitive market," stated Smithee. "In other words, we have carriers that will come in and write if some carriers raise their price higher than what would be indicated."
One local auto insurance customer has been with the same insurance company for nearly 12 years and she said she does not mind paying the higher premium as long as her company takes care of her. She would rather pay a higher cost and be protected than switch to another company or go without insurance.
"I have considered it, but with the research I've done I have the best deal where I'm at now," La Rhonda Lee said. "The longer you're with a company, the better discounts you do get."
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, 13 July 2011
Texas Orders Mcallen Insurance Agent To Pay Some $20,000 Restitution For Fraud - (Read Full Story)
The Department of Texas Insurance ruled McAllen insurance agent Francisco Javier Sanchez must pay nearly $20,000 in restitution for engaging in "fraudulent and dishonest acts and practices" several years ago.
In a final order issued in May and announced in a news release Monday, the department concluded Sanchez, 48, used several fake identities and addresses to file applications for pre-need funeral insurance policies. He would then collect on advance commissions issued by the Unity Financial Life Insurance Company, the order states.
Sanchez would often file incorrect Social Security numbers in the policy applications and attach money orders for the first month's premium, state records show. The fraudulent policies would then go unpaid and Sanchez would allegedly fail to return part of his commissions.
State Commissioner of Insurance Mike Geeslin ruled Sanchez must return $5,000 to Unity and also $11,258.62 to Security National Life Insurance Company, to whom he reportedly owed a separate debit balance.
Monday, 20 June 2011
Despite the fact that Southeast Texas is suffering a drought that could be the worst in living memory, some people actually are thinking about floods and realizing with hurricane season upon us this is the time to purchase Texas flood insurance.
Doug Canant, Drainage District 6 chief engineer, said work continues on detention ponds in and around the city of Beaumont to be better prepared for whatever might fall from the sky when it does decide to come.
Ten years ago, before a lot of the projects that Beaumonters now take for granted were completed, Tropical Storm Allison parked itself over north Jefferson County and began to engulf the Beaumont and the China-Nome areas as if they were inside a washing machine's rinse cycle.
The early morning deluge on June 7, 2001, qualified as a 100-year storm, which is measured as 13 inches falling within 24 hours. It means a storm of that magnitude has a one-in-100 chance of happening in any one year, not once in 100 years.
Storm intensity varies, sometimes delivering rainfall amounts in just a couple of hours that can overwhelm any drainage preparations.
Drainage District 6 had built a series of detention ponds in the mid-1990s around the Folsom Drive-Dowlen Road area, which were first put to the test with Allison.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
AUSTIN — House Republicans easily voted down a long list of consumer amendments before giving final approval Wednesday to legislation that extends the life of the Department of Texas Insurance and sets tighter guidelines for the agency to review rate increases.
Democrats offered a series of amendments to the bill that they said would strengthen consumer protections and crack down on companies that overcharge or abuse their customers. One key amendment would have required insurers to get approval from the state before raising rates.
But the Republican supermajority in the House knocked down virtually all the amendments, which were opposed by the insurance industry. GOP sponsors of the insurance department “sunset” bill said the current regulatory system is working well and promoting competition among insurers.
The bill, approved by a 101-40 vote in the House, would require the insurance commissioner to complete any review of a rate increase within 30 days of its filing by the insurance company. Currently, the commissioner can take longer to review the rates and determine whether they are justified.
The amendment on prior approval of rates was killed on a 92-45 vote along party lines.
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.
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Texas Insurance company America First, a Liberty Mutual Agency Corporation regional company, today announced the expansion of its small commercial insurance appetite with the addition of more than 60 business classes to its Commercial Protector BOP product.
The majority of the additional classes are in wholesale/retail, office, and medical office, but America First Insurance is also introducing six new internet classes to accommodate retailers with on-premises inventories. A Limited Cyber Liability endorsement has also been added at no cost for all qualified Commercial Protector and Custom Protector™ business classes. Lower limits for Employment Related Practices coverage are also available for both products.
“These enhancements broaden our appetite and deepen our franchise value with our agents,” said Fred Schneider, vice president, Marketing. “Small commercial is a large and attractive market segment, and we see great opportunity in writing a wider variety of smaller accounts.”
To better compliment the America First Insurance Package Series, the company is also targeting specific business categories with its new Spotlight Series. Key business categories include: automotive services; computer; contractors; craft; fine arts and collectibles; hospitality; internet retail; motion picture, pet services and professional office. These categories represent some of the most popular and wide-ranging areas for which businesses need specified Texas business insurance solutions. The Spotlight Series suite of products addresses numerous business needs reliably, competitively and comprehensively, furthering America First Insurance’s growth opportunities in its six-state territory.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Texas Business Owner Sentenced for Workers’ Comp Fraud, Tax Evasion
Texas Insurance Mutual Co. reported that a Travis County district court sentenced Gary C. Quintinsky of Houston to a two-year prison term for workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. Upon completion of his state prison term, Quintinsky will serve a 42-month federal prison sentence for tax evasion.
Quintinsky, who operated United Crane Inc. and multiple related companies, was indicted in March 2009 for his role in concealing payroll and employees from Texas Mutual Insurance Co. from Aug. 16, 2001, to Oct. 11, 2004.
Because workers’ compensation insurance premium is based, in part, on payroll, this type of scheme results in an employer being charged a lower premium than it actually owes. By hiding payroll, an employer can gain an unfair advantage over competitors.
In 2007, a Travis County jury awarded Texas Mutual more than $5 million in actual damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages in a civil judgment against Quintinsky. This case was the largest premium fraud case in Texas Mutual’s history.
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, 18 March 2011
Texas Insurance Windstorm bill - A Poison pill for gambling?
GALVESTON—Owners of wind turbines, gambling casinos and sexually oriented businesses such as adult video stores would be barred from buying Texas Insurance windstorm policies through the most common source under a bill filed Thursday in the Texas House of Representatives.
House Bill 272 would forbid the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association from issuing coverage on those three types of property even if they otherwise qualified for the policies. The association issues most of the windstorm coverage for property along the state’s hurricane-exposed coast.
Whether such a law would be a poison pill for casino development in Galveston was unclear Thursday.
State Rep. John Smithee, a Republican from Amarillo and chairman of House Insurance Committee, included the amendment in a bill proposing a major overhaul of the law governing the association’s operations and financing.
It was not appropriate for insurance ultimately backed by Texas taxpayers to be written on casinos and sexually oriented businesses, Smithee said.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Texas House Member Taylor Introduces TWIA Reform Bill
Texas State Rep. Larry Taylor has filed a bill meant to reform the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).
The Republican House member from Friendswood, Texas said the bill is in response to “management deficiencies, litigation abuses and the recent administrative oversight of TWIA.”
The Texas Insurance Department this month placed TWIA under administrative oversight. TDI said its decision was based in part on information provided to it that suggests an outside claims adjuster was paid for work that was never done.
Mr. Taylor’s bill, HB 2818, will require TWIA to be more transparent and provide discounts for buildings that meet certain building codes. Provisions in the bill also require an arbitration process for harder to settle claims.
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, 18 January 2011
Texas insurance commissioner to depart
The Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin plans to step down when his term ends Feb. 1. Geeslin sent a letter to the governor asking that he not be reappointed.
"It just seems to be the right time to transition and step aside and let someone else lead," said Geeslin, who has had the job for five and a half years. He said he hasn't decided what he'll do next.
Geeslin oversaw the state insurance market as it went through legislative reforms that deregulated much of the home insurance industry and sought to steady the market after mold claims sent premiums soaring. A rate dispute with State Farm, however, remains unresolved. Also, windstorm insurance has become more expensive along the coast since hurricanes battered the area.
Friday, 07 January 2011
Texas Auto Insurance Report: Market is Competitive, Rates Stable
The Texas auto insurance market has seen greater competition, stable costs and fewer drivers enrolled in the state-run assigned risk program in recent years, according to the biennial report released by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI).
Nine new insurers entered the Lone Star State's coverage market between the beginning of 2009 and the end of 2010, and 22 existing insurers filed for new coverage products.
The increased competition should maintain the availability of cheap auto insurance in Texas, especially after the minimum limit requirements were increased at the turn of the new year. The commissioner told one media outlet that, as a result of the change, premiums may rise by 2 percent to 3 percent for motorists carrying only the state's minimum liability coverage.
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, 29 December 2010
Fewer Auto-Insurance Claims In 2010, Yet Premiums Are Rising
Average Texas auto insurance premiums for U.S. families have fallen for five straight years through 2009, yet rates have risen slightly in some parts of the country in 2010. And that goes against a host of indicators that you think would actually be lowering rates. According to the New York Times, there's been little growth in how much we drive; unemployed drivers are using their cars less than before (likely less than they're still paying for in their premiums); and there's been a drop in the frequency of accidents. And while medical-care costs and car-repair expenses have risen, tort reform has limited the amount of accident-related legal expenses.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Auto insurance prices driven up in 2011
The start of the new year means Texas auto insurance rates for more than half of Texas drivers are going up.
A law passed back in 2007, mandates insurance companies raise their premiums.
That means starting Jan. 1, those who have minimum liability insurance will be paying 2- to 3 percent more on their premium. More than 7.5 million Texas drivers will be affected.
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.
Monday, 23 August 2010
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association Seeks 5% Rate Increase
The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has filed for 5 percent increases in both its residential and commercial rates, effective Jan. 1, 2011.
The state's insurer of last resort provides wind and hail coverage in the 14 coastal counties and parts of Harris County. TWIA provides wind and hall coverage when insurance companies exclude it from their homeowners and other property policies sold to coastal residents.
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
3 in 10 Valley drivers lack car insurance
If only vehicles registered in the Rio Grande Valley filled the roadways, drivers would have a three-in-10 chance of encountering an uninsured driver, according to the state's insurance regulator.
Almost one-third of the drivers in Cameron County do not have automobile insurance, making the county second in the state for percentage of uninsured motorists...
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...
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
51% of Employees Cannot Keep Current Coverage Under New ?Grandfathered' Guarantee
The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the new set of federal rules signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Despite the claim that current health care plans are "grandfathered" in under PPACA, the U.S. Departments of HHS, Labor & Treasury just issued new regulations on "grandfathered" health plans, and some trigger the mandate to have a government approved plan.
Under PPACA "grandfathered" plans would still be required to comply with certain reforms, and individuals who choose to enroll in these plans would not be able to use tax credits, essentially allowing these plans to wither on the vine...
Wednesday, 09 June 2010
Texas moves closer to banning use of discretionary clauses in insurance contracts
Discretionary clauses allow insurers to interpret policy terms and evaluate an insured’s claim for benefits. According to the TDI’s official proposal, the ban “is necessary to protect insurance consumers from the possibility of incorrect and unfair coverage determinations by insurers without a subsequent opportunity for a full and independent review under a non-deferential standard.” The TDI is concerned that insurers may have a conflict of interest in coverage determinations that would have an adverse financial impact on the insurer, and therefore want to ensure that insureds have the opportunity to have coverage determinations reviewed by an independent third party...
Monday, 05 April 2010
Texas experience shows pitfalls of small business health insurance pools
Wanda C. Rohm, the retired former owner of a San Antonio print shop, is skeptical of promises that the new federal health law will help small employers.
Her skepticism is hard won. A decade ago, she experienced a small-business owner's nightmare: A key manager suffered a health crisis, the print shop's health insurance premiums skyrocketed as a consequence, and Rohm's employees abandoned their group health plan...
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Buoyed in political deadlock, federal flood insurance program lapses
For the third time in the last few months, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has expired, with legislators in Washington, D.C., unable to reach a compromise on long-term expansion of the initiative for now.
On March 25, the U.S. Senate adjourned until April 12, without addressing HR 4851, the Continuing Extension Act of 2010, which extends a number of programs for the unemployed, as well as a proposed short-term extension of the NFIP, through April 30. The House approved the measure March 17, but without Senate approval, the program’s funding ended Feb. 28, essentially shutting it down...
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
Texas homeowners cite water damage as most common home insurance claim
According to data assessed between 2000 and 2007, Allstate found that water damage ranked as the most common claim from its Texas homeowner insurance customers. It was followed by wind and hail damage as the second and third most common claim...
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Texas Windstorm Association Settles 300 Ike and Dolly Lawsuits; 1,000 Remain
The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has now settled about 300 lawsuits related to the devastating 2008 hurricane season, but the general manager of the last resort insurer rejects insinuations in Texas that TWIA is now settling because it realized it mishandled claims...
Tuesday, 08 December 2009
The State of Texas Insurance Still Offering Help For Hurricane Ike
Galveston County residents needing home repair assistance resulting from 2008’s Hurricane Ike can get federal help through a nearly $100 million grant program.
In addition, the Texas Department of Insurance reports that it remains available to assist consumers with unresolved Hurricane Ike claims and other insurance issues. The department says insurers settled most claims promptly, but some Texans have experienced problems with the claims process, including delays in claims handling, unsatisfactory settlement offers, and claim denials...
Monday, 07 December 2009
El Paso sees increase in fraudulent hail claims
While the majority of El Paso homeowners and vehicle owners have reported legitimate claims to insurers, a homeowner who may need a new roof, but whose home was not damaged in the most recent storm, may be tempted to do whatever it takes to get a new one, said ICT spokesman Mark Hanna...