Insurance Regulation Legislation Passed by Senate
Austin - Two important insurance measures numbered among the bills brought to the Senate floor today. The highly anticipated Senate Bill (SB) 14, which regulates homeowners and automobile insurance, was passed by a 28-3 vote. Author of SB 14, Pasadena Senator Mike Jackson, attributed the bills successful passage to the bipartisan work of the Senate. Jackson said that the bill will allow for both affordable and available insurance and should provide for reductions in homeowners insurance.
SB 14 would grant more authority to the Commissioner of Insurance by requiring that he approves insurance companies rates and forms before they would be allowed to use them. New rates and forms are among anticipated changes that lawmakers predict will result from the new legislation. In addition, insurers would also be required to file all rating manuals and supplementary supporting data along with their rates.
One of the main topics of debate was the use of credit scoring. While the bill does not ban the practice outright, it does prohibit the unfair and discriminatory use of credit scoring. San Antonio Senator Leticia Van de Putte said that by mandating insurers to make their credit scoring criteria data public, it will add more sunshine on the practice.
The other important insurance bill, SB 127, was unanimously approved by the Senate. The legislation, authored by Horseshoe Bay Senator Troy Fraser, directly deals with the issue of water claims. SB 127 would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of previous water claims on a house that has since been fixed. The legislation would also require public insurance adjusters to be licensed and to follow strict guidelines and procedures.
Other bills passed by the Senate today include:
- SB 253, sponsored by Palestine Senator Todd Staples, would exempt summer activities conducted at institutions of higher education from the Texas Youth Camp Safety and Health Act provision since they are already required to meet local health and safety regulations.
- Committee Substitute to Senate Bill (CSSB) 405, sponsored by McAllen Senator Juan Hinojosa, would improve the ability of law enforcement to combat identity theft. The legislation also provides prevention measures and assists victims in recovering from identity theft.
- CSSB 862, by Houston Senator John Whitmire, would require schools to be closed on Memorial Day.
- SB 1047, sponsored by Houston Senator Rodney Ellis, would exempt a state or local officer who is acting in a legislative capacity from being subject to liability for certain actions.
The Senate will meet Thursday, April 3, 2003, at 8:00 a.m. to hear the Local and Uncontested Calendar and will reconvene for Session at 10:00 a.m.