Texas Watch received more documents from their Freedom of Information Act request, which included internal documents and notes from a March 30, 2016, secret meeting between the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), Texas Farm Bureau, and lobbyists for the insurance industry.
After a claim is filed, the insurance company is certainly entitled to receive from a policyholder reasonable information that the insurance company requires to decide whether to accept or reject the claim. Unfortunately, as a way to delay the claim and discourage the policyholder, many insurance companies create daunting laundry lists of items from the policyholder they say they require before they can make a decision to accept or deny the claim.
Yesterday’s post, Texas Insurance Lobbyists Support Bad Insurance Practices promised to show “how the insurance lobby uses ‘think tanks’ and the media – directly referencing yours truly – to manipulate our own elected representatives.” As a conservative supporter of people trying to help people rather than cheating insurance companies and believer that propagandists are a huge threat to America, I want to show you just one connection between the strategy of Texas insurer lobbyists and “for hire spin doctors” that are paid for by insurance companies to hurt policyholders.
If organized criminals in Texas wanted to get off easier and pay less for their misdeeds, they would probably hire lobbyists to make up a propaganda campaign to change laws to go easier on crooks. This is similar to what the insurance industry and their trade groups plan to do in Texas this year – they want to lessen penalties and personal accountability for cheating, delaying, and wrongfully denying property insurance claims.
This summer, a carrier asked a Houston federal court to declare that a fire was intentional, voiding the policy and removing carrier’s liability to the insured. The insured countered with a claim for breach of contract and sought sanctions for spoliation of evidence. The Court held that the carrier had a duty to preserve samples obtained by its investigator during its investigation and used its inherent power to sanction the carrier for pre-action destruction of evidence.1
Several Texas news outlets discussed a report from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) which stated that homeowners insurance premiums in Texas have gone up 21 percent since 2009. Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman presented figures to a Senate committee recently showing that the average premium on a homeowners policy in Texas last year was $1,412. The report found that the average loss on an insurance claim in Texas is among the highest in the country, which contributed to high premiums.
Banks and mortgage companies regularly buy what is known in the insurance world as “force-placed” insurance coverage. This type of coverage protects a mortgagee’s interest in the property should no other insurance coverage apply. In other words, force-placed insurance ensures that a property is covered, regardless of the circumstances. Most force-placed policies are made between the bank/mortgage company and the insurer. So what rights, if any, does a borrower have under such a policy?
It was about a year ago when I reported that Texas led the nation for highest insurance premiums in 2010. Well, the results are in for 2011 and Texas has once again topped the nation as the state with the highest insurance premiums in the land. Roger Mares of KTXS News reports that Texas homeowners pay an average of $1,511 annually for their home insurance. That’s $50 more than Florida, the state that came in second place.
On Friday, July 15, 2011, the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner issued a ruling stating that the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) had “violated the insurance laws of the State of Texas….” Specifically, the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner found that TWIA violated state law by deceiving and taking advantage of TWIA policyholders after thousands of legitimate claims were denied or underpaid. The Commissioner concluded that “such conduct constitutes grounds for disciplinary action.”
Aside from protecting policyholders’ rights against their insurance companies, Merlin Law Group also monitors bills that may affect your rights as a policyholder.