House Poised to Pass Insurance Sunset Bill

State Rep. Craig Eiland (r), D-Galveston, speaks against HB274 the lawsuit reform bill as Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, listens on May 9, 2011.
State Rep. Craig Eiland (r), D-Galveston, speaks against HB274 the lawsuit reform bill as Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, listens on May 9, 2011.

House lawmakers voted Tuesday night to continue the duties and operations of the Texas Department of Insurance, giving early approval to the agency’s Sunset bill.

The bill includes several measures to make the agency more accountable, from requiring the department to make its procedures for rate reviews accessible to the public, to forcing auto and residential property insurers to file aggregate claims information with the agency. Supporters say the bill would make the agency more efficient by giving insurers more certainty about rate filings and abolishing unnecessary committees.

Lawmakers considered dozens of amendments during Tuesday night’s debate. Those tacked on include measures to make the agency subject to open records and open meetings laws, require insurance companies to tell people how they can improve their credit scores, and force insurance providers in the individual market to send notices of rate increases 60 days in advance.

Others fell short, like Rep. Armando Walle’s efforts to ban the use of credit scores in determining whether someone qualifies for an auto or homeowners’ insurance policy, and to make the insurance commissioner an elected post; Rep. Roberto Alonzo’s amendment to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity; and Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna’s amendment to require insurers to cover losses incurred when residents are following mandatory evacuation orders from natural disasters.

 

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