Texas Specialty Underwriters announced that Michelle Carter, ACSR, has joined the Rockwall-based broker as a commercial property and general casualty underwriter. Carter has over 15 years of commercial insurance experience and will be underwriting Texas and Oklahoma new and renewal business. Most recently, Carter was chief underwriting officer at The Hanover Insurance Group. Previously, she was with The Hartford. Carter obtained a B.B.A. in finance and M.B.A. from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
The retirement of State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, from the Texas legislature marks the loss of a leading voice on behalf of public policy affecting the insurance industry and independent agents. Taylor served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2003 to 2012, then in the Senate since 2013. He was an active member of the National Council of Insurance Legislators, serving on NCOIL’s Executive Committee and chairing NCOIL’s Life Insurance Committee. Taylor grew up in the insurance industry, working summers at his father’s agency. After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in insurance, he worked as an insurance underwriter, then returned to his father’s agency, which he bought in 1996, then merged with Galveston Insurance Associates in 2017. Taylor remains active in his community and is an advocate of IMPACT, the political action committee of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas. “Working alongside Sen. Taylor all these years has been a real honor. He’s always been there for IIAT and we will miss him when he retires from the Texas Legislature in January 2023,” said Lee Loftis, IIAT’s chief legislative officer. Taylor did not seek reelection.
On April 26, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association announced that TWIA General Manager John Polak will retire at the end of 2022. Polak served in the role for 11 years. The board expects to have a new general manager in place prior to Polak’s departure. TWIA board of directors Chairwoman Chandra Franklin-Womack said, “John Polak has diligently led TWIA to make TWIA a better steward of the financial resources entrusted to us by our policyholders. Working with state legislators, the Texas Department of Insurance, and our other stakeholders, John put TWIA on a more solid financial footing and improved the association’s accountability and transparency. He steered our response to Hurricane Harvey, which put more than $1.3 billion into the recovery of our state. We thank John for his dedicated service to the people of Texas’ coastal communities and wish him the best of luck in his retirement.” Before coming to TWIA in 2011, Polak held executive positions in insurance companies ranging from large national and international carriers to midsized regional carriers. During a career spanning five decades, he oversaw the development and growth of profitable specialty books of business in both personal and commercial lines. He has overseen catastrophe loss responses in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and other parts of the country. Polak served from 2018-2020 as the chair of the Property Insurance Plans Service Office board of directors, a nonprofit organization that oversees all 37 residual market property insurance plans.
As of April 30, Kristie Gray retired as executive director of the Federation of Insurance Women of Texas, ending a 14-year tenure. Gray’s service to FIWT was valued for her skills, ranging from planning ahead, to organizing, to communicating with members, to negotiating with semiannual meeting venues. She was also known for her personal touches of a sympathetic ear, consoling voice and encouraging hugs. On the occasion of Gray’s retirement, Past President Vanessa Torres said, “We are in the business of insurance. We help people feel safe. We let them know that in time of a crisis we are going to make it better and put things back to the way they were. Kristie Gray did that very same thing for us.”
INSURCON, the annual conference of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, will celebrate its 125th anniversary when it meets on June 22-24 at the JW Marriott, San Antonio Hill Country Resort. On the agenda are a carrier-connect opportunity for company representatives to meet informally with agents; a two-hour ethics class and an agent-only learning lounge. Featured presenters include Jeff Wodicka, Casswood Insurance Agency; Tai Jenkins Williams, Texas Mutual, and Kelly McDonald, author and founder of McDonald Marketing. The presentation of the Drex Foreman Award to an exceptional agent, along with awards to the 2022 ELITExan and 2022 Account Manager, will conclude the conference with a brunch on Friday, June 24.
The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas will host a webinar, Flood Overview: Then and Now, on June 28, at 10 a.m. The course is designed to provide information on NFIP policies, flood rating guidelines, claims processing, legislative changes and information needed for clients who purchase flood insurance. Cost to attend is $27 members, $64 nonmembers. One hour of C.E. will be awarded. Online registration is available through the Conferences and Events/Events Calendar menu option at IIAT.org.
IIAT President Marit Peters hosted insurance analytics consultant Paul Buse, principal of Real Insurance Solutions Consulting, on Mornings with Marit, a May 12 webcast available free to members of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas. Buse’s recap of the Texas marketplace noted that the overall P&C loss ratio in 2021 was above the five-year average. The largest line of business for independent agents is personal auto, followed by homeowners and commercial auto. Premiums in Texas are growing a little faster than the national growth rate, but growth is slower than the five-year average. Surplus lines premium continues to be a bigger share of the premium pie in Texas than the national average. The webcast series runs on the second Thursday of the month at 10 a.m. to provide leadership insights. Each seminar is one hour. Registration is required. Next Mornings with Marit are scheduled for June 9 and July 14. Each program becomes available for replay after the live broadcast.
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association will hold its annual meeting Oct. 2-4, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. The three-day conference is expected to bring insurers, reinsurers and brokers together. On the speaker agenda are Amy Walter, editor of The Cook Political Report, who will speak about the upcoming fall election; Hal Brands, author and historian, on the Russia-Ukraine War; leading CEOs on the state of the reinsurance market, and former FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig, on the economic outlook. Monday’s special guest is George W. Bush, 43rd president of the U.S. Online registration is available. Fees for attendees range from $775 to $1,375, with a $375 spouse/guest fee available.
With an event theme suited for summer fun, the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston will host its Charity Beach Bowl on July 9 at Copperfield Bowl, 15615 Glen Chase Drive, Houston. Event organizers hope to attract 150 bowlers in 30 five-member teams. The event will raise funds for Brookwood Community, First Responders Foundation, and Mission K-9. Online registration for teams ($50 per bowler) and sponsors ($500-$1,000) is available. Visit the Events tab at IIAH.org.
According to a GlobalData survey, if Google began to offer end-to-end household insurance policies, it would pose the greatest threat to insurance companies based in the United Kingdom. The survey of U.K. consumers found that over 25 percent of respondents would be interested in buying their home insurance from Google. Respondents also signaled they would be interested in policies from Amazon and energy companies. Ben Carey-Evans, senior insurance analyst at GlobalData, says, “In reality, it looks like these players will look to come in as partners for insurers and offer the technology to aid products. However, GlobalData found that if these companies did decide to offer end-to-end household products, a significant proportion of consumers would view them as viable providers, so the threat to incumbent insurers is there.
Colorado State University’s April 7 extended-range forecast for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane activity is for above-normal activity. CSU’s forecast includes 19 named storms, 90 named storm days and nine hurricanes, four of which would be major. Hurricane storm days are predicted at 35. The probability prediction for Gulf Coast landfall for at least one major (Category 3, 4 or 5) hurricane is 46 percent. This prediction is based on information gathered through March 2022; the accuracy of CSU’s forecasts improves as the hurricane season approaches. CSU’s next forecasts are scheduled for June 2, July 7 and Aug. 4. AccuWeather’s Global Weather Center, led by meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, also predicts an above average active season, with 16-20 named storms, estimating six to eight to become hurricanes.
OTHER STATE LEGISLATION
Safelite AutoGlass has lobbied for and passed legislation in Utah and Arizona that its lobbyists said will ensure that the sensors and cameras used for advanced driver assistance systems are properly calibrated. Meanwhile, the Auto Glass Safety Council took issue with similar legislation as it was introduced in the Maryland legislature, as the proposal addressed pricing, billing practices and the relationships of auto glass shops with insurers and claims adjusters. The association of independent glass shops told Maryland lawmakers that it prefers to leave business practices and penalty provisions proposed by Safelite out of the law. The proposal did not pass in Maryland.
Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis held a press conference at the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Investigative and Forensic Services office in Tampa on May 12 to announce five legislative proposals targeting fraud that he will pursue for the upcoming special session on insurance reform. Among the proposals was to create three antifraud homeowner squads, create a $3 million antifraud and public education campaign, amend the state’s False Claims Act to allow whistle blowers to recover damages in Qui-Tam cases, and make changes to the Assignment of Benefits law.
Lawmakers in California are considering a bill designed to crackdown on employers in the state who subvert the state’s workers’ comp system. The proposal would require a newly formed commission within the state Department of Industrial Relations to report to the Legislature, on or before January 1, 2024, any widespread issues or instances of client employers or labor contractors being used to shift workers’ compensation responsibility away from employers who control job-site risk to employees. The report must also examine whether employers with poor workers’ compensation risk are reclassifying their employees as temporary staff or contracted labor in order to shift the obligation to provide coverage. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud is expected to join the California Staffing Agency Reform Association in providing input on ways to address workers’ compensation premium fraud in California.
On April 27, the Surplus Lines Stamping Office published an online infographic to recap the statistics on 2021 late filers. According to the recap, 453 agents made late filings in 2021, an increase over 2020, when there were 432 late filers. Total filers in these years numbered 907 in 2021 and 950 in 2020. Only 93 of the 2021 late filers were Texas resident licensees; 360 were nonresidents. With a total of 698,862 policies filed, the stamping office noted that only 1.42 percent of all policies filed were late. SLTX’s late filers report to TDI identified 127 agents, sharing a total of 1,318 late filings, for enforcement action.
FEDNAT ON WATCH
FedNat Holding Co. incurred $29 million of estimated first-quarter net catastrophe losses, driven by 11 notable events, the Florida-based insurer revealed in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, news sources reported April 28. The company doubts it can continue operations, reaching the conclusion in part because of continued underwriting losses in the first quarter of 2022, sources said, citing a separate Form 10-K filing. The first-quarter events generated claims in its home state, Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina. About $10 million of the losses are related to business the company is running off, including the Maison Insurance Co. book it acquired in December 2019 and FedNat’s non-Florida book, the company said. FedNat recorded about $2 million of net adverse reserve development related to Category 4 Hurricane Laura that made landfall in Louisiana in August 2020. The insurer has refocused on Florida homeowners, saying that the market improved in recent years. The company said the runoff that started in December should take 18 months to complete. All of FedNat’s companies recently entered into a consent order with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, and noted in the 10-K that it could be placed into receivership by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation unless it acquires excess-of-loss reinsurance for coverage at the July 1 renewals. It anticipates increased OIR oversight because it acknowledged doubts about its ability to continue operations.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, there are about 5.3 million homeowners insurance policies in Texas, but only about 753,000 federal flood policies. That means only about 14 percent of Texas homeowners are covered by flood insurance. TDI advised homeowners to obtain flood insurance, as even a small amount of water can cause thousands of dollars of damage. Mortgage lenders generally require that homeowners in a flood zone get flood insurance. TDI advised all homeowners to carry flood insurance, as the National Flood Insurance Program, which provides most flood insurance policies, says many flood claims come from outside high-risk flood zones.
On May 12, Texas workers’ compensation insurers were notified by TDI’s Division of Workers’ Compensation that it has designated Verisk to be the agency’s data collection agent. Verisk will begin billing insurance carriers, other than governmental entities, for onetime set up costs and claim data collection activities for the first year of claim EDI (Electronic Data Exchange) 3.1.4 transactions, the standard that DWC adopted in March. Verisk will bill each insurance carrier a percentage of Verisk’s total costs based upon historical transaction volume. Billing will occur in two installments, one immediately upon registration, and then the balance on July 26, 2023, at the end of the first year of data collection. All carriers or insurance groups must register their billing contact information with Verisk by June 13. To register, go to https://txdwcedi.info/ and select Billing Registration from the menu. Address questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.