From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 20, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Texas Consumers Win Major Redlining Court Decision
Texas' Third District Court of Appeals orders insurance companies to stop hiding redlining information

(Austin) // Texas consumers won a major victory this afternoon after Texas' Third District Court of Appeals overturned two Attorney General decisions shielding important insurance information from the public. The court's ruling ensures information about redlining -- illegal discrimination in deciding who receives insurance -- is available to the public.

"The Third District Court of Appeals decision is a major victory for Texas consumers," said Senator Rodney Ellis. "The light will now shine on the discrimination that has taken place too often in auto insurance in Texas."

The court's decision stemmed from a 1996 incident in which the Center for Economic Justice, a consumer think tank, filed an open records request to review certain insurance data maintained by the Texas Department of Insurance. The Department sought and received advice from then-Texas Attorney General Dan Morales.

In Open Records Decision 639, the Attorney General expanded an exemption to the Texas Open Records Act, to allow insurance companies -- under the guise of confidential trade secrets -- to keep hidden from Texas consumers information on pervasive redlining. Another Attorney General's opinion extended a separate exemption, virtually sealing all insurance company information from the eyes of the public. In their ruling, the Third District Court ruled the Attorney General overstepped his bounds in both instances.

"Today's ruling tells insurance companies it is time to stop hiding and work harder to clean-up the redlining problem in Texas."

Insurance reform has long been a top priority of Senator Ellis. In 1995, Senator Ellis sponsored legislation passed into law that prohibits insurance companies from denying insurance to individuals because of age, gender, race, color, religion or geographic location.