State Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, says the hullabaloo over his information request to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, or TWIA, has been blown out of proportion. The co-chair of the newly created legislative oversight panel over TWIA says he was sitting in Houston's Chinese embassy trying to get a visa to visit his daughter when his phone started filling up with messages about a feud with Democratic donor and Houston-based attorney Steve Mostyn. "I don't know why Steve Mostyn has gone off the deep end over this," he said.
Taylor explains that he made a detailed request to TWIA general manager Jim Oliver about attorney payouts in a $189 million settlement between TWIA and homeowners because his oversight committee has a report on the matter due in November. (Mostyn's firm reportedly collected $86 million from the settlements on behalf of 2,400 homeowners.) Taylor said he needs the settlement details for the committee report and the hearing he's planning to hold, both aiming to address whether TWIA could be operating more efficiently. "Did TWIA do a terrible job of settling claims, and is there something we need to do to correct that? Is there inefficiency in settling the claims?" Taylor said. "All I've done is ask for information. I haven't attacked anybody, but apparently this has touched the nerve of Steve Mostyn. I'm just asking for information."
Taylor did talk about the broader issue at hand: whether TWIA is paying attorneys too much in these settlements instead of coming up with a way to pay claims to homeowners directly, without lawsuits spurring action. "We oughta be putting people back in their houses and not making attorneys rich. If I need legislation to fix this in the future, I need to know what happened this time," Taylor said.
Mostyn, who obviously thinks differently, discussed the issue at length with me in our interview last week, and I've clipped out the insurance segment below:
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