The House Insurance Committee met on March 3, 2021 to hold an organizational hearing and take invited testimony. This report focuses on testimony by the Texas Department of Insurance and the Office of Public Insurance Council. A video of the hearing can be found here.

This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.

Texas Department of Insurance

Doug Slape, Chief Deputy Commissioner TDI

  • In aftermath of storm, opened phone lines in evenings and weekends, used news releases and social media to inform public of claims and scams, approved 3,000 emergency claims adjuster applications, and will have preliminary high level data by late March.
  • TDI’s mission is to protect public, promote a stable market, Texas is the second largest insurance market in the nation.
  • Consumer Operations answers calls, handles consumer complaints, licenses agent adjusters. TDI is now able to respond to complaints within 25 days. Complaints typically show up weeks after an event.
  • Property Casualty and Life & Health review rates and forms to ensure they are within the state law.
  • Financial Regulation division deals with consumer protection by continuously monitoring companies to ensure they can pay their claims.
  • 2,800 companies are regulated in Texas.
  • There has been a 32% increase in the collection of penalties and fines relating to fraud in the past four years.
  • $11.6 million was recovered in restitution last year.
  • Division of Workers Compensation oversees the states worker compensation system.
  • 90%-95% of administrative operations in IT work from home.
  • Doctors, labs, hospitals, and other medical providers are not regulated by TDI.
  • US treasury has signed covered agreements with the EU and UK regarding rules for foreign providers in the US.
  • Starting this month, federal officials will begin announcing states whose laws they plan to preempt and plan to complete this by December 2022.
  • HB 1689 reflects the changes in laws for Texas to comply with the new agreement, change in these laws is supported by a variety of professional insurance organizations.
  • Chair Oliverson – Are there any non-insurance issues that TDI is tasked with regulating?
    • Yes, Amusement rides, works with DMV and DPS to certify individuals are insured, has an inspection program that inspects homes along the coast.
  • Israel – How is the consumer hotline being promoted to the public?
    • We do not have a marketing budget but do use social media as well as the use of press releases to newspapers and TV stations.
  • Israel – Have you reached out to legislators?
    • I know we have sent some information on how to mitigate winter storms to staff.
  • Israel – Are there any other outreach communications besides Spanish and English?
    • Slate – Those are all we have at the moment.


Brian Ryder, Property Casualty Actuary TDI

  • An actuary is a professional that uses math and statistics to try and set a price tag to risk, must go through an examination and credentialing process.
  • TDI employs 23 credentialed actuaries.
  • TDIs Insurance Rate and Data Analysis actuaries review rates to make sure they comply with state laws, are also involved with data collection and data analysis.
  • TDIs Financial Solvency actuaries participate in periodic financial examinations of insurance agencies to ensure the reserves they are carrying are adequate to pay claims.
  • Middleton – How often are rates too high?
    • Ryder – It is not uncommon for us to find concerns with company’s rates, prefer to work with companies rather than going through the formal legal process, it is uncommon that we go through the legal process.
  • Middleton – You review their work to make sure it complies with law or do you do your own analysis as well?
    • We do both and it depends. For the most part, we provide additional information based on the data we collect.
  • Middleton – So you don’t do your own analysis, but rather, go off the information you are given and ignore the modeling they use?
    • Models are fairly complicated and is outside the knowledge of most actuaries. We review the inputs and outputs. We can’t audit the models. We focus on what the realms of our expertise are. TDI does not have its own models, but we sometimes do analysis.

Office of Public Insurance Counsel

Melissa Hamilton, Public Counsel OPIC

  • OPIC protects interests of Texas insurance consumers through regulation, serving as a resource to Texas legislature, and engaging in consumer education and outreach.
  • Engages in direct consumer assistance through phone lines, social media, press releases, and their website.
  • Produces statutorily required reports including two HMO report cards on consumer satisfaction and quality of care as well as Bills of Rights for personal auto and residential policies.
  • OPIC receives funding from chapter 501 5.7 cents assessment, last year OPIC was slated to receive 27%, the other portion comes from interagency contract with TDI for approximately $191,000.
  • TDI is primary funded maintenance taxes.
  • OPIC will have a budget of approximately $1.92 million for the upcoming biennium.
  • Currently has a cap of 13 FTEs.
  • Staff’s experience allows them to operate efficiently with 10 FTEs and helped save Texas consumers over $85 million last year.
  • Since fiscal year 2018, OPIC has saved consumers $130 million compared to their combined budget of $3.5 million.
  • Was able to operate remotely with ease this past year.
  • Have returned to the office on a staggered basis.
  • Israel – What is the distinction between OPIC and TDI to the public, who do they call with issues?
    • OPIC cannot file complaints, however, we can provide support to walk the consumer through the issue, can then direct consumer to TDI if necessary.
  • Romero – Can you give an example on how you have saved consumer dollars?
    • A rate was filed with TDI for an auto insurance rate increase, we had concerns that we voiced to TDI in a formal rejection letter and this led to the company withdrawing the rate.