Texas Watch 4.12

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 9.42.36 PMWe’ve released the third episode of our podcast “Texas Tells.” This month, we talked to policyholders about the insurance industry’s effort to erode the last line of defense for policyholders against low, slow, or no payments on their valid claims. After devastating storms ravaged their homes, businesses, and churches, these Texans faced a second storm: dealing with their insurance company. Listen here.

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Capitol Update: Senator Larry Taylor filed a new version of SB1628, the bill that erodes accountability and policyholder protections against low, slow, or no payments from their insurance company. Despite, Senator Taylor’s assertion that he did not intend for his bill to burden consumers, the latest version makes it even more difficult for policyholders to receive payment on their valid claims.

Next week marks the two-year anniversary of the West Fertilizer Co. plant explosion. The catastrophe killed 15 people and caused upwards of $250 million in damage. In an effort to prevent a future tragedy, the House Environmental Regulation Committee heard three bills on ammonium nitrate safety. In another step towards a safe Texas, the House Licensing and Administrative Committee approved Representative Chris Turner’s HB409. The bill wouldrequire bars and restaurants to carry liability insurance. Finally, the Senate passed Senator Kirk Watson’s SB188 and SB189, which would prevent insurance companies from raising rates when a policyholder simply asks a question about their policy.

What we’ve been up to:

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 10.02.59 PMTo help Texans in the wake of tragedy like those in West, Texas, Representative Eddie Rodriguez has filed HB2470. The bill would require ammonium nitrate facilities to carry liability insurance. In remembrance of the two-year anniversary of the West Fertilizer Plant Co. explosion this month, we interviewed West locals about the catastrophe. Watch here.

Texas Watch’s Deputy Director Ware Wendell testified in the House Environmental Regulation Committee in support of HB2470, which requires high-risk facilities using ammonium nitrate to carry liability insurance. The bill was filed in the wake of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion. Not only would the legislation help Texans rebuild in the aftermath of a catastrophe, but it provides market-based incentives for facilities to mitigate risk.Watch here.

As part of our Texans for Liberty & Justiceproject, we released the second of three videos on the Seventh Amendment. The second video explores the Judeo-Christian origins of the Right to Trial by Jury. Watch here.

What’s coming up this week:

  • As part of our Texans for Liberty & Justice project, we will be delivering educational pamphlets to the legislators next week. The pamphlet focuses on how the Seventh Amendment Right to Trial by Jury benefits a free market economy. Check it out here.
  • On April 14, Alliance for Justice will host a screening of “Lost in the Fine Print,” a short documentary that demonstrates how arbitration clauses are forcing consumers into a system stacked against them with no possibility of appeal. Texas Watch Executive Director Alex Winslow will participate in a discussion panel following the movie. RSVP today.
  • Deputy Director Ware Wendell will testify in favor of Representative’s Chris Turner’sHB956 in the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committeethis Tuesday. The bill would ensure that health care claims actually involve health care.
  • The House Committee on Insurance will hear HB335this Wednesday. Deputy Director Ware Wendell will testify on behalf of the bill, which protects Texas drivers against junk insurance policies.

How you can help:

Senator Larry Taylor filed a new version of SB1628, the bill that erodes accountability and policyholder protections against low, slow, or no payments from their insurance company. Despite, Senator Taylor’s assertion that he did not intend for his bill to burden consumers, the latest version makes it even more difficult for policyholders to receive payment on their valid claims.Tell your legislator to preserve policyholder protectionshere.