From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
January 24, 2000
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis, Texas Insurance Commissioner Fight Redlining in Houston

HOUSTON -- As part of their on-going effort to combat insurance redlining in Texas, Senator Rodney Ellis and Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor met with community leaders and local activists to discuss problems of availability and affordability for minorities and low-income families in Houston.

"Three years ago, we did a bus tour of this area and saw the impact of insurance redlining on families, businesses and quality of life," said Ellis. "Today we met with community leaders and heard that the problem remains the same. Homeowners and auto insurance are necessary ingredients for economic success today, but many low-income and minority families simply do not have access to it."

Community leaders briefed the state officials on how hard it is to get affordable coverage for homes and autos in some parts of Houston. They received a briefing from Montemayor on the Market Assistance Program run by the Texas Department of Insurance, which gives insurance companies incentives to cover qualifying applicants whom they would otherwise not underwrite. The MAP program, as it is known, hooks up the insurers with the customers.

Ellis and Montemayor also attended the groundbreaking of a new Nationwide Insurance office serving the Sunnyside and Third Ward areas of Houston. The office will be located in the Renaissance Center, 6021 Scott Street at Old Spanish Trail.

The office is opening as part of Nationwide's agreement with the State to increase access to insurance coverage in minority and low-income neighborhoods. As part of the agreement, Nationwide is opening eight offices across Houston. Senator Ellis set in motion the Texas Department of Insurance's investigation of redlining problems that led to the Nationwide agreement.

"I am here to congratulate Nationwide on breaking ground for this new office," Ellis said. "I am here to encourage them to reach out to the people of Sunnyside and other underserved areas in Houston and make insurance available at affordable prices. I assure you, I will be here if they fail to meet their goals."