IIAT’s Governmental Affairs team has been busy reviewing the 7,000-plus bills that were filed prior to the Texas Legislature’s bill filing deadline of March 8, 2019. While insurance-related bills have not been the focus of the 86th Legislative Session, a number of bills of interest to IIAT members have begun to make their way through the legislative process.
TWIA Sunset – SB 615 by Buckingham and HB 1510 by Paddie
The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) is under Sunset Review this session. IIAT worked with the Sunset Commission members during the interim, expressing our concern with portions of the Sunset staff’s report that would have been detrimental to our members. IIAT members Garry Kaufman and Travis McDavid testified on behalf of our members and the final work product reflected the changes that IIAT requested.
Modernization of TWIA processes was the key focus for IIAT. To that end, the Sunset bill includes requirement of TWIA to accept credit card payments, establish monthly installment, and provide direct bill on renewal. Other key requirements include: allowing TWIA to offer an automatic renewal and establishing replacement cost at time of issuance in lieu of time of loss. SB 615 was heard in committee last week and appears to be well on its way to the floor of the Senate. Once it has passed the Senate, it will move to the House.
Commercial Change Notification – SB 590 by Watson and HB 1411 by Lucio III
This bill will revise the notification required when a company makes meaningful changes to a renewal of a commercial policy, much like what we did last session for personal lines policies (SB 417). A couple of differences include: the exemption of notice when the policy falls under the “Large Risk Rule,” and when the changes are agreed upon by the insured and the insurer prior to renewal. As we know, often on larger risks, agents negotiate changes to commercial policies for their clients and therefore no notice would be required when made with the consent of both parties.
Both bills will be heard on Tuesday, March 26th, in their respective committees. We have worked closely with industry stakeholders to get to a bill that is acceptable to all parties.
Flood Notification – SB 442 by Hancock and HB 1382 by Oliverson
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, IIAT and many others saw the need to improve the notification to consumers regarding flood coverage. There were five separate flood notification bills filed this current session. The stakeholders and the various legislators who authored bills have met and are working on compromise language. While the final bill language is not yet solidified, the intent is to have a notice added to policies clarifying that flood is not covered under a homeowners policy. There is no apparent objection to the bill, just a difference of opinion as to whether to apply to personal and commercial policies or just personal.
Surprise or Balanced Billing – SB 1530 by Hancock and HB 3299 by Lucio III
A matter that continues to frustrate consumers is what is commonly known as surprise or balanced billing by out-of-network medical providers. Chairman Hancock has passed a number of bills relating to surprised billing, but this version is a complete prohibition of billing the consumer when they have done all that is required to go to in-network providers.
The Texas Medical Association is opposed to the legislation and other legislative options have been filed. As in the past, IIAT supports Chairman Hancock’s efforts to protect consumers when credit agencies pursue collection of erroneous, surprise medical bills.
If you have any questions about other specific bills, please feel free to contact IIAT Governmental Affairs Director Lee Loftis at firstname.lastname@example.org.