The Texas legislature has its hands full this week with an omnibus biill regarding TWIA. Florida Governor Charlie Crist has to decide whether to veto various measures regarding insurance legislation. Additionally, three federal bills were just filed which may impact the landscape of how insurance is made available and sold.
Last week, I had several posts warning of language buried in the omnibus TWIA senate bill which took away policyholder rights. The house version did not have this anti-consumer language. We will keep you posted, but I am asking all Texas policyholders to contact your representatives to express concern about any language that takes away policyholder rights at the time of making a claim.
Charlie Crist must make veto decisions this week. As indicated in an article, Charlie’s Big Week Ahead, it is anybody’s guess as to what the governor is going to do with the insurance bills.
On the federal front, a bill was introduced authorizing insurance agents to obtain a national insurance license to sell policies. Another bill by Florida Congressman Ron Klein would allow for a pool of catastrophe money. The National Underwriter has indicated there will be opposition to this:
"It drew an immediate reaction of measured support from the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. However, the bill is expected to generate the same opposition from carriers and reinsurers that doomed it in the last Congress. And, even the IIABA said it would seek changes in the reinsurance component of the legislation."
Finally, a national surplus lines insurance bill was introduced. I do not know how it will impact most consumers, but it would certainly change the landscape of insurance since many large insurance companies own surplus lines carriers. They will sell policies through this market if they can avoid state regulation. The National Underwriter reported:
"It would create a uniform system of surplus lines premium tax allocation and remittance, one-state compliance on multistate surplus lines risks, and direct access to the surplus lines market for sophisticated commercial purchasers.
“These are concepts long endorsed by NAPSLO and promoted with members of Congress during meetings over the past few years,” Mr. Wood said.
Richard Bouhan, NAPSLO executive director, added, “We believe that this legislation will bring efficiency and reduce the cost of regulatory compliance in surplus lines placements with multistate exposures.”
He added that consumers will also benefit because the costs related to the inefficiencies and redundancies, which they bear, will be eliminated.”
“This important legislation will provide much needed reform in the nonadmitted and reinsurance markets,” said Deborah Luthi, a member of the RIMS board of directors and director of enterprise risk management services at Matheson.
“RIMS believes the bill would reduce the regulatory costs for insurers that are passed on to consumers and would make insurance more available and affordable,” Ms. Luthi said. “RIMS urges the House of Representatives to once again pass this legislation and for the U.S. Senate to take it up as soon as possible,” she added."
It is important to keep up with pending legislation that will affect insurance and consumer protection rights and to realize that insurance companies are spending a significant amount of money proposing laws that will "game" the situation to their advantage.