From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Jennifer Wichmann
(214) 467-0123
September 27, 2002

Senator West to hold Town Hall Meeting on Homeowners Insurance

DALLAS - State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) will host a Town Hall Meeting, Thursday, October 3, 2002 to address the volatile changes with homeowners insurance that now affects millions of Texans. The meeting will be held at North Dallas High School, 3120 North Haskell in Dallas (near N. Central Expressway) at 6:30 p.m. Senator West will be joined by Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor, Chairman Joe Deshotel of the Black Legislative Caucus and other area state-level elected officials in discussing the implications of this statewide problem.

"Texas is facing an insurance crisis," said Senator West. "One only needs to talk to the average homeowner to note that their homeowners' policies - if they can afford a homeowners policy - have doubled within the last year. Given the crisis that we have, I think that Governor Perry should consider calling a Special Session of the Texas Legislature."

Presently, Texas law allows homeowners insurance rates to go largely unregulated. Enormous increases in homeowners insurance rates over the past year has prompted closer scrutiny of the major insurance companies. Rates have sky-rocketed as much as 200 percent and some Texans are paying more than $600 above the national annual average for coverage. Insurance companies say the rate increases are necessary due to high costs associated with water and mold damage claims.

In response to a lawsuit filed by the Texas Insurance Commission, Farmers Insurance announced just days ago that it will no longer offer homeowners insurance in Texas. The company's departure will leave 700,000 Texas policy holders without insurance. Twenty-five percent of them are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

"The Town Hall meeting will bring together the insurance industry, the insurance commissioner and consumer groups to talk about some of these issues and get some feedback from the public," said Senator West. "Homeowners, not only in my district but all across the state, are hurting."

Senator West has invited industry spokesmen and consumer advocates to take part in the meeting. The public will also be able to participate in a question-and-answer session with panelists and will be encouraged to voice their opinions to area lawmakers in the months leading up to the 78th Legislative Session.

Senator West and Commissioner Montemayor will be available for interviews at 5:45 p.m. prior to the meeting. For more information, please contact Jennifer Wichmann or Kelvin Bass at 214-467-0123 or jennifer.wichmann@senate.state.tx.us.

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