Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Craig Estes, District 30

For Immediate Release
January 29, 2003
Contact: Lewis Simmons
Phone: (512) 463-0130

Estes Joins Call for Insurance Companies to Open Books and Justify Rates

AUSTIN -- State Senator Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, joined members of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce in co-authoring emergency legislation requiring insurance companies to open their books and justify rates for homeowners insurance.

Senate Bill 310 filed today by Senator Troy Fraser, chairman of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, is in response to Governor Rick Perry's designation last week of insurance as an emergency issue for the 78th Texas Legislature. Estes serves on the committee whose entire membership has signed on as co-authors.

"I commend Senator Fraser on his quick response to Governor Perry's request that this legislation be placed on a fast track. I appreciate Chairman Fraser's leadership, along with that of Governor Perry, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, and Speaker Craddick in paving the way for this, the first step, toward what we hope will result in reduced homeowners insurance rates for all Texans," Estes said.

"Senate Bill 310 seeks to answer the paramount question: Are Texans being charged fair and justifiable rates for homeowners insurance? This bill is aimed at securing the information we need to make sure consumers are being treated fairly and the rates they are paying aren't excessive," Estes said.

All insurance companies that write homeowners insurance in Texas would be subject to the bill's requirement that they immediately file with state regulators their current rates and projected rates for the next six-month period for homeowners insurance.

It gives the state insurance commissioner the authority to seek information about insurance companies' credit scoring formulas and methodologies, as well as all supporting data used by insurers to determine homeowners insurance premiums.

The bill requires the state insurance commissioner to prepare and deliver a summary of the data to the Legislature within 30 days after passage of the bill.

"This bill would require insurance companies to open their books and verify that consumers are being treated fairly. It's important to know that the rates being charged are just, reasonable, adequate, not excessive, and not unfairly discriminatory," Estes said.

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