IIAT 83rd Legislative Session Results: 15 Best Bills of the Session 83rd Legislatures 15 Best Bills

Texas Legislature Archives

IIAT 83rd Legislative Session Results

15 Best Bills of the Session

1. SB 1795 by Watson – Navigator Regulation – Priority Issue 9.1.13
  SB 1795 authorizes the Texas Department of Insurance to determine whether the navigators in Texas, contracted by the Federal Healthcare Exchange, are qualified to perform their duties, sufficiently trained, and accounted for through a state registration with TDI. The bill prohibits navigators from holding themselves out to be licensed insurance agents or being compensated based on enrollment. Additionally, the bill authorizes TDI to conduct background checks on navigators if necessary.  
2. HB 1405 by Smithee – Surplus Lines Requirements – Priority Issue 1.1.14
  HB 1405 corrected a problem caused by previously passed legislation stating that the surplus lines agent who placed business with the managing underwriter was responsible for collecting, reporting and filing surplus lines taxes. Because of the various roles that an agent or surplus lines agent may play, there was uncertainty about who was responsible for filing taxes and retaining information, making the audit process difficult, if not impossible.

Now, a retail agent who has a surplus lines license should have a written agreement with the surplus lines agent/broker stating which surplus lines agent/broker is responsible for filing the taxes and all other reporting requirements of a surplus lines agent. IIAT and the Texas Surplus Lines Association will provide a template of the language recommended for the agreement.

3. HB 500 by Hilderbran – Margins Tax Revisions – Priority Issue 6.14.13
  HB 500 provides help to small businesses in Texas, including independent agents. The margins tax exempts the first $1 million of business revenues from taxation, but that exemption was set to expire in January 2014. This legislation makes the exemption permanent and accomplishes other changes in taxation which will be implemented in the next few years.  
4. SB 181 by Hegar – Electronic Verification of Auto Insurance – Priority Issue Immediately
  SB 181 changes the Transportation Code to permit the use of a wireless device to verify financial responsibility for the operation of an auto. The image displayed on the device must be provided by the insurer. An officer may not access any other information on the device.

A court may require the presentation of a paper copy if there is reason to question the validity of the electronic information.

5. SB 1702 by Taylor – TWIA Waiver Program Extension – Supported Immediately
  SB 1702 extended until Dec. 31, 2015 the rule that allows non-compliant homes to be eligible for coverage in TWIA with the payment of a surcharge. Without this extension, non-compliant homes would not have been eligible for TWIA coverage after August 2013. SB 1702 only extends the rule to the end of 2015.  
6. SB 852 by Taylor – Posting of Policy Information Online – Supported 9.1.13
  SB 852 allows insurers to post basic policy forms online for personal and commercial auto, inland marine, and residential property coverages. At the request of the insured, the insurer must provide the customer with a copy of the specimen policy that is posted. The insurer must also clearly state on all policies the web address where the policy language is located and explain how the insured can receive a copy. The forms must be able to be saved and copied for up to five years.  
7. HB 949 by Smithee – Coverage for Newly Acquired Vehicles – Supported 9.1.13
  HB 949 clarifies the requirement for insurers to add newly acquired or replacement vehicles to a personal auto policy. A replacement private passenger vehicle or pickup truck must be provided the same coverage as existed on the vehicle being replaced. If the insured wants to add coverage or continue physical damage coverage, they must notify the insurer within 20 days of obtaining the replacement vehicle. With any additional vehicle, the insurer must provide the broadest coverage of any vehicle on the policy.  
8. HB 1305 by Sheets – Criminal Penalty for Acting as Agent – Supported 9.1.13
  Under current statute, an agent who continues to act as an agent after license revocation receives a lesser criminal penalty than a person acting as an agent who never obtained a license at all. This bill matches what is arguably the same offense with the same fine or penalty.
9. SB 112 by Lucio – Contents of Policy Dec Page – Supported 9.1.13
  SB 112 puts into law what many insurers are already doing regarding the deductible on residential policies. The bill requires insurers to show both the percentage deductible and the actual dollar amount of the deductible that applies to each loss. The use of percentage deductibles has become common practice, causing some confusion among consumers about whether the deductible is a percentage of the policy limit or the loss.  
10. SB 734 by Carona – Licensing of Captive Insurors – Supported Immediately
  Texas is one of the few states that does not allow for formation of captive insurance companies within the state, forcing some businesses domiciled in Texas to seek captive formation elsewhere. SB 734 authorizes the formation of pure captive insurance companies in Texas subject to certain restrictions and regulations.  
11. SB 736 by Watson – Certain Consumer Inquiries – Supported 9.1.13
  Customer policy inquiries may not be used by the insurer as a basis for nonrenewal or cancellation, or as a basis for charging a higher premium on standard fire, homeowners, or farm and ranch policies. Whether or not this was common practice before, it is now a prohibited practice in Texas.  
12. SB 840 by Hancock – Promotional Practices not Rebating – Supported 9.1.13
  Under the Insurance Code, it clearly states that giving any inducement to an unlicensed person in connection with the sale of insurance was considered rebating. SB 840 clarifies that a gift of promotional items, educational items or courtesies commonly extended to consumers of a value of $25 or less, even if given as an inducement to purchase, is not considered rebating.  
13. SB 1286 by Williams – Professional Employers Organizations (PEOs) – Supported 9.1.13
  Outdated language in the Labor Code still relating to Staff Leasing Services no longer reflected current business models of the industry. The chapter now refers to Professional Employer Organizations and updates all defined terms relevant to the chapter.

Under SB 1286, companies that join a PEO may now purchase workers’ compensation insurance from outside the PEO. Previously the company was required to purchase workers’ compensation from the PEO.

14. SB 1332 by Duncan – Large and Small Employer Defined – Supported 9.1.13
  The definition of large employer and small employer groups, as it relates to health insurance plans, was subject to change with the implementation of the PPACA in Texas. SB 1332 retained the current definition of large group to be 51 employees or more and the current definition of small group to be 2 - 50 employees.  
15. SB 1567 by Davis – Named Driver Policy Disclosure – Supported 9.1.13
  ‘Named driver’ policies continue to be an issue in Texas. SB 1567 attempts to address the issue by requiring that the agent or the insurer confirm to the insured before the purchase, orally and in writing, the limitations included in a named driver policy.