Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home Owner's Insurance Reform In 2009 TX Legislative Session

Texans are paying the highest rates for homeowners insurance in the nation -- six years after an insurance crisis led Gov. Rick Perry and numerous state leaders to promise lower rates that never came. Meanwhile, insurance companies have enjoyed record profits.

With Democrats winning more seats in the Texas State Legislature in the 2008 election, homeowners will have an all-too-rare chance at genuine reform when the Legislature once again debates homeowners insurance in the 2009 state legislative session.

In the two legislative sessions since 2003, Speaker Craddick (R) made sure that few reform bills escaped the House Insurance Committee to come up for votes in the full House.

But next year the dynamic will change for two reasons. The House is more closely divided between Democrats and Republican, meaning Craddick, an opponent to reform, may not be speaker. Craddick can't win speaker's chair again for the 2009 legislative session without a block of support from Democrats, and neither can any other Republican. It would be very surprising if many, or any, Democrat(s) back Craddick for the speaker's chair.

More important, the Insurance Department is undergoing sunset review, the regular process by which the Legislature examines state agencies. That ensures that an insurance bill will move through the Legislature. Many Democrats and Republicans, having heard from angry homeowners in their districts, are pushing for more stringent regulation.

With foreclosures on the rise in Texas, many lawmakers realize that reducing consumers’ insurance bills may allow more folks to keep their homes. Also, Republicans may be more anxious to make a show of "supporting the average Texan" after the Houston-based Republican Hill Research firm, raised such serious questions about whether the Republican Party might be in trouble in Texas after a decade of political dominance. Continued Republican opposition or foot dragging on meaningful Home Owner's Insurance Reform in the 2009 legislative session will give Democratic candidates a giant hammer to swing at their Republican opponents during the 2010 election cycle.

No comments:

Post a Comment