FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2007
AUSTIN, TX -- Today the Senate approved a bill by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. designed to assist consumers to comparison shop for home and auto insurance, and another to assist injured employees with legal representation.
Senate Bill 611, the one-stop-shop for insurance comparison, would offer consumers the ability to log onto a website and view a listing of insurers offering homeowners and automobile insurance in this state. The website would simplify one of the most complex financial services to interpret and decide upon.
"Since coverage levels vary so greatly between the different policies, policyholders cannot shop based on price alone," said Sen. Lucio. "My bill directs the Texas Department of Insurance and the Office of Public Insurance Counsel to develop this website with side-by-side comparisons of different policies, rates charged, the percentage by which rates have fallen or risen in the past three years, and other pertinent information."
Executive Director of Texas Watch, a statewide consumer advocacy and research organization, Alex Winslow, noted, "This legislation will go a long way toward making our insurance market more transparent for consumers by giving them tools they need to make the best choices for their families."
Senate Bill 287 would provide district courts the authority to appoint an attorney to represent injured employees who have won approval throughout the administrative process of the legitimacy of their employment-related injuries. Generally insurers opt to go to court because the cost is less for legal fees than for payment benefits. Injured employees are usually at a disadvantage in the court room because they cannot afford legal representation and insurers can. When employees represent themselves, the insurer usually prevails.
"No one should have to forfeit a court case with merit because of the lack of money to hire an attorney," explained Sen. Lucio. "Our judicial system should be based on equity, and through this bill, we can ensure fairness to both sides in workers compensation cases."
The bill must now be considered in the House.
Note: Senior Policy Analyst Perla Cavazos handles SB 611 and Policy Analyst Kate Volti handle SB 287 for the senator. They can be reached at (512) 463-0127.