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

For Immediate Release
April 3, 2003
Contact: Lewis Simmons
Phone: (512) 463-0130

Texas Senate Approves Insurance Reforms

AUSTIN -- The Texas Senate approved major insurance reform legislation Wednesday aimed at bringing relief to consumers hit hard by skyrocketing premiums.

"This legislation provides significant insurance reforms to help and protect consumers," said State Senator Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, a member of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee which has spent weeks hammering out details of the legislation that was brought to the full Senate for consideration Wednesday.

Senate Bill 14 regulates and reduces the use of credit scoring, requires insurance companies to seek approval for rate increases, authorizes the state's insurance commissioner to rollback high insurance rates, provides an exception for farm mutuals, and includes partial exceptions for small county mutuals while still watching them closely.

"This legislation affects both home and automobile insurance in Texas. Its focus is to control the rising costs of insurance rates and provide consumer protections and safeguards," Estes said. "Although this legislation does not present a perfect solution to all the insurance problems we have in Texas, these reforms are a step in the right direction."

Estes applauded Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Senate Business and Commerce Committee Chairman Senator Troy Fraser and members of the committee for their leadership in addressing the insurance issue which affects homeowners and motorists across the state.

"While a major goal of this legislation is to get a handle on premium rates and implement protective measures for consumers, this bill also sheds significant sunlight on how the insurance industry operates in Texas. This includes a requirement that insurance companies file their current rates for review by the state's insurance commissioner, who will determine if the rates are justified and has the authority to require a rate rollback," Estes said.

Senators spent approximately four hours on the floor Wednesday discussing Senate Bill 14 and more than a dozen related amendments. It now goes to the Texas House of Representatives for consideration.

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