Bill E. Harrison Jr., TASA Risk Solutions in San Antonio, was awarded the Big I’s prestigious Woodworth Memorial Award for his uncommon dedication to the insurance industry and to the association. Harrison grew up in the insurance industry, working in the family agency, Coleman Company Insurance Services. In 2007, he left to start his own agency, TASA. At IIAT, Harrison served as Budget and Finance Committee Chairman, president/chairman in 2004, and as state national director, among other roles. In 1999, he was named IIAT’s Young Agent of the year. On the national level, Harrison chairs the Big I Reinsurance Company and formerly chaired the Finance Committee and Professional Liability Committee. Harrison also has served on the Trusted Choice Board of Directors and Planning Committee and served as InsurPac chairman for Texas. He has served the San Antonio community through his service to Leadership San Antonio, Rotary International, Mission Road Ministries, Palmer Drug Abuse Program, Trinity Baptist Church and the Livestock Exhibition. Harrison holds a degree in finance from Texas A&M University. The award was presented to Harrison in Washington, D.C. last May.
Rep. Tom Oliverson, M.D., R-Houston, was appointed chairman of the House Insurance Committee by Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont. Oliverson, who was first elected to the state legislature in 2016, served as vice chairman of the committee last session. He is a graduate of Sam Houston State University and Baylor College of Medicine. Oliverson currently serves as chairman of the Property and Casualty Committee of the National Council of Insurance Legislators; previously he was chairman of NCOIL’s Committee on Workers’ Compensation. Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-Fort Worth, continues as chairman of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, which hears insurance legislation.
Governor Greg Abbott has reappointed Cassie Brown as commissioner of workers’ compensation at the Texas Department of Insurance. Her new term is set to expire Feb. 1, 2023. Brown has served in this role since June 2018. Previously, she was deputy commissioner of regulatory policy at TDI. She also served as a policy advisor to Gov. Rick Perry. Brown holds a B.A. in political science from St. Edwards University. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.
The next meeting of the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas is tentatively slated for 9 a.m., March 25. This is the annual meeting of the board at which new officers will be elected. SLTX board meetings are held virtually and available to the public. Visit sltx.org to obtain a link to the meeting.
The Insurance Information Institute has launched a specialized website concentrating on COVID-19 business interruption claims. FAIRINSURE.org provides resources such as a compendium of court decisions affirming the necessity of direct physical damage in business interruption coverage as well as up-to date news on what the association is doing to help customers, businesses and communities rebuild. It also tracks related blogs, including one covering a poll released by the American Tort Reform Association in late January. The poll indicated that the majority of Americans believe that COVID-19 relief should come from public policy solutions, not litigation.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud announced that its mid-year meeting on June 8 will be virtual, with plans to host its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6-7 in person. The mid-year meeting will address breaking fraud trends and the latest research and will include a review of key state fraud legislation, major court cases and consumer education initiatives. For registration information, visit insurancefraud.org. Use the tab “Info & Contact Us” for all upcoming meetings.
The Texas Department of Insurance will host its 2021 Texas Workers’ Compensation Conference virtually June 28-July 1. The four day conference, themed The Human Element, will offer person-centered approaches to workplace safety, claims handling, dispute resolution and medical treatment. Topics and registration information will be announced soon.
The Independent Insurance Agents of Houston will host its annual Charity Chili Cook-Off on April 24 at Bayou Sports Bar and Grill, 6011 Addicks Satsuma Rd. #2103. The event will benefit BIG Love Cancer Care. Gates open at 7 a.m., with registration at 8 a.m. Chili turn in is slated for 1:15 p.m, with awards announced at 3:30 p.m. The entry fee for a cooking team is $50. For entry information, contact Phil Swift, email@example.com, or Phillip Swift Jr, firstname.lastname@example.org. For sponsorship information, contact Ayla Benavides, email@example.com.
On Feb. 2, three insurance trade organizations appeared before the Washington state legislature in opposition to Senate Bill 5351, a proposal that would mandate retroactive business interruption coverage for COVID-19 in commercial property policies. The American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the Northwest Insurance Council released a joint statement to the press the same day. They promised to “aggressively defend against any attempt to undermine contracts or violate due process, government takings and contracts clauses,” of the constitutions of the U.S. and Washington state.
The Office of Public Insurance Counsel has proposed changes to the consumer bill of rights for homeowners, renters and auto insurance and petitioned the Texas Department of Insurance to adopt them. Basically, the changes separate the original consumer rights document into two rules, one for homeowners, dwelling and rental insurance and the other for personal auto insurance. Copies of the documents must be included with the issuance of new policies and with renewals, if not previously sent. The new documents include additional consumer protections that have been added by statute since 2013. Written comments, including any request for a public hearing, on the rules were due by Feb. 22.
TDI has updated the Company Licensing Fee Transmittal Form to reflect the changes adopted by rule on Feb. 2. Reductions include dropping from $50 to zero the fee for filing amendments to a certificate of authority; from $100 to zero the fee for reservation of name; from $2,000 to zero the fee for applying for a certificate of authority for foreign and alien insurers and from $1,500 to zero applications by domestic insurers. For other fee reductions, see 28 TAC 7.508 and 7.1301, which were modified by the Texas rule originally proposed on Oct. 22, 2020. The new rule also eliminates the requirement for foreign insurers to submit biographical affidavits to Texas, indicating that their submissions to their domiciliary regulator are sufficient.
TDI proposed to classify pet insurance as inland marine insurance so insurers could offer both individual and group pet insurance policies without filing policy forms and rates, under a proposed rule published Jan. 29. Comments on this rule are due by the end of the business day on March 1.
TDI launched an information video on Feb. 4, to explain how VINs can be used to track a used car’s history. Ben Gonzales, TDI, interviewed Tully Lehman, National Insurance Crime Bureau, to explain that the VIN is a unique identifier for a car that reveals when the vehicle was built. NICB offers Vin Check, an online tool to tell if a car has been flooded or if it is an unrecovered stolen vehicle or salvage vehicle. Insurers also use the number to transmit information to state motor vehicle departments in compliance with mandatory liability insurance laws. The Vin Check service is available at NICB.org. The eight-minute video is available for replay on YouTube.
To standardize pet health insurance policies nationwide and boost competition, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) formed a pet insurance working group comprising state insurance officials, insurers, veterinarians, and consumer groups. Don Beatty, deputy commissioner at the Virginia Bureau of Insurance and chair of the NAIC’s pet insurance working group, says a model law would give consumers a better sense of what a policy does and doesn’t do for them. He asserts, “Everyone wants consumers to know that up front.” At present, various definitions of preexisting conditions impede comparisons. The NAIC’s model law also proposes to eliminate the need for expertise in home and auto insurance in order to sell coverage for pets. Sellers could instead get a limited license to sell only pet insurance. However, the NAIC will need several months to finish the process, and state legislators even more time to adopt any model law.
On Jan. 29, the NAIC announced that Vermont became the 33rd state to license the association’s State Based Systems which enables state insurance departments to process license applications, renewals, inquiries, complaints, enforcement actions and more, as they remain compliant with national uniformity initiatives. SBS offers a variety of product services for producer licensing, company licensing, continuing education tracking, consumer services, enforcement, fraud reporting and revenue management. Texas is not currently a member of the NAIC’s SBS.
Now in its 29th year, the NAIC Consumer Liaison Program has grown to 42 representatives, 23 funded by the NAIC and 19 unfunded. New terms began Jan. 1, with the program taking on 14 newcomers. Thirteen of the funded representatives participated in the program in 2020. Birny Birnbaum, executive director of the Austin-headquartered Center for Economic Justice, remains on the consumer committee, continuing his role from 1998 to 2009, then from 2012 to present. The NAIC’s Consumer Liaison Program promotes consumer interaction with the NAIC’s members, the insurance industry and other interested parties. Funded newcomers include representatives of the Center for American Progress, University of Maryland School of Law; Florida’s Department of Financial Services; Georgians for a Healthy Future; Families USA; the National Center for Transgender Equality; Unidos US; Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Center for Health Law and Policy; the Colorado Children’s Campaign, and Health Equity Solutions. Another Texan reappointed to the Consumer Liaison Program was Karrol Kitt, emeritus associate professor of the University of Texas at Austin School of Human Ecology, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences. Kitt has served on the committee since 2009.
On Jan.4, Allstate announced the closure of its acquisition of National General Holdings Corp. for $4 billion. The acquisition makes Allstate a top-five carrier in the independent agency sector, according to Allstate chairman, president and CEO Thomas Wilson. He said the primary reason Allstate pursued the deal was to put the company “squarely in front” of independent agents with good technology and a broad product portfolio. Wilson added, “The acquisition of National General advances our strategy of growing personal lines insurance with an increase of one percentage point in market share. Independent agents will now have more protection offerings for customers, with a strong technology platform creating growth opportunities for them and Allstate. National General’s accident and health business will also further expand Allstate’s circle of protection.” Allstate will conduct a reverse merger of its independent agents business into National General’s network.