Chief Deputy Commissioner Doug Slape was among three recipients of the annual Robert Dineen Award from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Slape has spent more than 30 years working at the Texas Department of Insurance to improve solvency regulation and, according to the NAIC’s media release, has provided a powerful and reasoned voice to maintain the integrity of the state-based system of regulation in Texas. Slape’s service includes leadership positions in many NAIC groups. While chair of the NAIC’s Captive and Special Purposes Subgroup, Slape supported the writing of NAIC’s first white paper on the use of captives in the U.S. Following the 2008 financial crisis, Slape helped develop enhancements to the solvency regulation framework, which are included in the NAIC’s accreditation program. Slape led an initiative at the Texas Department of Insurance to automate the review of quarterly financial filings, a process many other states have followed. Most recently, Slape served as Texas’s chief insurance regulator for almost a year while awaiting the appointment of a new commissioner of insurance.
Rep. Tom Oliverson, M.D., R-Houston, chairman of the Texas House Insurance Committee, was elected treasurer of the National Council of Insurance Legislators, a bipartisan organization that reviews public policies involving the insurance industry during its annual meeting in November in Scottsdale, Arizona. The meeting drew 357 participants, including 70 legislators from 25 states, and 19 state regulators. Oliverson previously served as chairman of NCOIL’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Committee and as a member of its Executive Committee. In his professional career, Oliverson is a board-certified anesthesiologist and partner at U.S. Anesthesia Partners, the largest anesthesia group in Texas. California Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Sacramento, was elected NCOIL president; New York Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, vice president, and Arkansas Representative Deborah Ferguson, DDS, D-West Memphis, secretary. The 2022 annual meeting was the organization’s return to fully in-person attendance.
The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas will host its 59th Annual Joe Vincent Management Seminar in person at the Renaissance Austin Hotel Jan. 30-Feb 1. The three-day event features an ELITExas workshop for career development among the under-40 set; several continuing education and motivational sessions, and a brief presentation by Commissioner of Insurance Cassie Brown. The 2022 Industry Preview Panel, moderated by Lee Loftis, IIAT’s chief legislative officer, will include panelists representing life and health, surplus lines and property/casualty segments. Cost to attend is $395 for members, $525 for nonmembers. Online registration is available.
Houston Insurance Day 2022 has been slated for Feb. 23 at the Houston Marriott Westchase. The annual trade show hosted by the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a lunch break at noon. The exhibit hall will be open to all member and nonmember agents and their agency personnel for free. Larry O’Donnell, a leadership consultant and the first Undercover Boss, will be the keynote speaker. Attendance at the luncheon costs $35 for agents, $40 for exhibitors. Exhibitor-only fee is $70 per person. Online registration is available. For more information, contact Ayla Benavides at 832-769-5245 or Renee Stager at 832-769-5247.
Texas managed to escape a full-fledged judicial hellhole Top Eight List ranking by the American Tort Reform Foundation; however, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Fifth District, located in Dallas, won a spot on ATR’s watch list. According to the Judicial Hellhole Report, the court has developed a reputation for liability-expanding decisions. Among its actions cited in the report: The court disregarded the state’s long-standing prohibition on introducing evidence about different products and dissimilar accidents and held a defendant liable for injuries caused by a product that exceeded safety standards. The Texas Supreme Court overturned the court’s failure to apply the apex doctrine, a rule that prevents harassing high-level executives by subjecting them to depositions where they have no firsthand knowledge.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Model 673 and Model 670 laws have been recently adopted in 39 states and Washington, D.C., and they put specific requirements on how insurance players must treat their customers’ electronic personal information. Model 673 is a data security regulation, currently in effect in 33 states, plus D.C., and Model 670 is a data privacy law, currently in effect in 17 states, plus D.C. The former requires “technical and administrative measures” to protect any electronic personal information that ends up in possession of insurance companies with “reasonable security,” and the latter grants consumers a set of rights not too dissimilar from the California Consumer Privacy Act, which includes the right of deletion of any personal information in possession of insurance companies. The NAIC website shows “no current activity” on these models in Texas.
Hub International Limited announced Dec. 7 that it has acquired Cameron Investment Company, Inc., d/b/a Shepard Walton King Insurance Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Headquartered in McAllen, Texas, Shepard Walton King provides clients with business and personal insurance in various industries, including agribusiness, real estate and education, which supports Hub’s specialty practices. Raul Cabaza III, president of Shepard Walton King, and the Shepard Walton King team will join Hub Texas. “Shepard Walton King leads a highly skilled team and will add depth to our insurance solutions as clients’ needs continue to shift and grow,’ said Martin Yung, president and CEO of Hub Texas. “Hub has established an extensive network of specialists and innovative services to meet our clients’ growing needs, added Cabaza. “We’re excited to be joining Hub, which will help us build on our successes in the market.”
When the board of directors of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association met on Dec. 7, the members declined to reverse the five percent rate increase on windstorm insurance policies scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1. The decision, on a 5-to-3 vote came after coastal area lawmakers wrote to the board in November requesting the reversal of the prior vote. Signing the letter were House Speaker Dade Phelan, along with Representatives Todd Hunter, Abel Herrero, James White, Terry Canales, Geanie Morrison, J.M. Lozano, Eddie Lucio III, Briscoe Cain, Greg Bonnen, Ed Thompson, Alex Dominguez, Mayes Middleton, Dennis Paul, Sergio Munoz, Cody Vasut and Joseph Deshotel, along with Senators Eddie Luccio Jr., Judith Zaffirini, Juan Hinojosa, Lois Kolkhorst, Larry Taylor and Brandon Creighton. In other actions, the board authorized expenditures to carry out staff’s recommendation that the association leverage TWIA’s transition to a hybrid work environment by moving to a smaller, less expensive office space. The move is expected to save TWIA more than $508,000 per year after a one-time $460,000 expense in 2022 to move to the new location. Also, the board voted to select Willis Re for reinsurance broker services. (Willis Re was recently acquired by Arthur J. Gallagher and Co. and is now known as Gallagher Re.) Then the board voted to re-issue its previous request for proposals for a vendor for catastrophe modeling services in order to be consistent with the new law requiring distinct vendors for the broker and cat modeling services.
Fitch Ratings’ 2022 Outlook released on Dec. 6 includes an expectation that U.S. property/casualty insurers would generate statutory underwriting profits and steady earnings next year, despite challenges from higher inflation and a likely reduction in contributions from investment gains. Fitch holds a neutral fundamental sector outlook for the U.S. P/C sector in 2022. The sector outlook considers the influence of underlying fundamentals foreseen for 2022 on financial performance relative to results in 2021. The headwinds and waning commercial lines pricing momentum could present issues for the sector beyond 2022. Evolving catastrophe risk exposures will add volatility to P/C insurers as well. Global insured losses from natural catastrophes mounted in 2021 with unusual first quarter winter storm losses, up to $40 billion in estimated losses from Hurricane Ida, and potential for up to $10 billion in losses from an active California wildfire season. As a result, insurers and reinsurers are increasingly reducing capacity in catastrophe-prone regions, leading to further price increases.
The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) released a fact sheet in early December resulting from its data call related to Covid-19 claims. Among DWC’s findings as of the end of November: As of Nov. 7, 2021, insurance carriers reported more than 61,000 Covid-19 claims and 371 fatalities to DWC. Nearly half of these claims (45 percent ) and half of the fatalities (50 percent) involve first responders and correctional officers; in 2020 and the first half of 2021, slightly less than one-third of Covid-19 claims filed (31 percent) had medical or indemnity benefit payments associated with them; data call results show insurance carriers accepted half (50 percent) of Covid-19 positive test claims. Despite more than 16,500 denials of Covid-19 claims with positive tests or diagnoses, there were only 134 disputes filed with DWC. These and other findings are included in the 15-page report Covid-19 in the Texas Workers’ Compensation System, December 2021, on the TDI website.