I knew they couldn’t keep us in second place for long. Now “insurance company friendly” Texas is number one in the nation again for highest homeowners insurance rates. Florida edged ahead of us for a brief time, but the almost total lack of regulation in Texas let us reclaim our rightful spot at the top of the list. The Dallas Morning News documents this in a good article. Here are excerpts:
After slipping behind Florida a year ago, Texas jumped back into the top spot among the states with an average annual premium of $1,460 for the most common type of homeowners policy sold across the country.
Florida was second at $1,390, and the national average was $791. Only five states had average premiums higher than $1,000 a year.
Consumer groups said Tuesday that the results should be no surprise to Texas homeowners.
“We have been among the highest in the nation for as long as anyone can remember and have always been significantly higher than the national average,” said Alex Winslow of Texas Watch, a consumer group active in insurance issues.
Winslow said that until the Legislature enacts “meaningful reforms” to hold down rates, Texas homeowners “can expect to keep paying overpriced premiums for inadequate coverage.”
The rate comparisons come as the Legislature prepares to consider a sunset bill for the Texas Department of Insurance and all its regulations in the 2011 session. Consumer groups want to see tighter control of insurance rates, including a new regulation that requires prior state approval of all rate increases.
Insurance companies are adamantly opposed to such a change. Now, companies can increase premiums once they notify the insurance department. The insurance commissioner has authority to review increases and can try to halt the rates retroactively if he finds them unjustified.
Much of the support for tighter control of rates came from Democratsin the Legislature, who will comprise a much smaller bloc in the House after the elections earlier this month. The partisan mix in the Senate was unchanged, although Republicans still hold a 19-12 majority.
“The industry will no doubt be emboldened by the elections to seek even more special protections, but lawmakers have a duty, regardless of party identification or ideology, to make sure their constituents are not being taken advantage of,” Winslow said.