From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
December 10, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Calls on Insurers to Release Auto Policy Information.

AUSTIN, Tx. -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) urged insurance companies Monday to provide the public with information on the sale and cancellation of automobile insurance policies. "This information is important in determining whether or not insurance redlining exists in Texas," Ellis said.

Redlining occurs when insurers use illegal discriminatory factors, such as race and geography, in determining eligibility. Senator Ellis sponsored legislation in 1995 that prohibits discrimination and allows consumers to sue companies they believe have discriminated against them.

"If redlining doesn't exist, as the insurance companies claim, then they shouldn't have a problem with releasing the data," Ellis stated. "I think the industry would be better served if they took the position to release this information and let the chips fall where they may."

An October court decision temporarily prevents consumer access to data on the number of vehicles insured and the number of policy cancellations by zip code. The court's ruling has since been criticized by consumer and freedom of information groups as detrimental to efforts to identify discriminatory and anti-competitive actions by the insurance industry. A decision on whether to permanently prevent the release of this information will be made next year.

Senator Ellis is a member of the Senate Economic Development Committee, which will continue to examine this issue until next summer, when it reports to the full Senate with recommendations. "The work the committee is doing on public access to insurance information is valuable," Ellis said. "Texans pay the premiums and they pay the taxes. They cannot be excluded from this issue."