Commissioner Change in TX

Kitzman is out as Commission after 21 months

After the long Memorial Day weekend, the Texas Department of Insurance and Gov. Rick Perry wasted no time before putting the confirmation of Eleanor Kitzman as Insurance Commissioner to a vote.

Kitzman was appointed by Gov. Perry in 2011 and remembered by many Senators for having far more interest for the companies and not for the consumers.  Her presumed bias becomes more evident with some of the events that took place during her tenure.

–          Kitzman removed a rule that would require insurers to give fair warning about any out-of-pocket costs that would be incurred for out of network expenses.  Insurance Journal

–          Kitzman declined to put any restriction on premium hikes in 2012.  This led to some of the most profitable years from companies such as Allstate, Farmers and more specifically State Farm who implemented a 20% rate increase in 2012. Dallas News

  • Kitzman and the TDI put off multiple requests for premium and loss figures.  The statistics that are usually released in April were not available until this past Memorial Day Weekend, just before her confirmation hearing.
  • The following are the Loss Ratios for the largest home insurers in Texas. Dallas News
    • State Farm – 47.5%
    • Allstate – 50.8%
    • Farmers – 66.3%
    • USAA – 54.4%
    • Liberty Mutual – 58.3%

–          Kitzman has been criticized for spending over $1.5 Million of tax dollars on consultant fees with a New York based firm. Insurance Journal

After Kitzman failed to be confirmed by the senate after 21 months of service, Gov. Perry appointed Julia J. Rathegber as the Insurance Commissioner of Texas.  Rathgeber was the deputy chief of staff in the office of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.  Rathgeber studied at the University of Texas at Austin and earned both her bachelors and law degree.  Rathgeber is involved in other various associations such as the State Bar of Texas and the Seton Fund Development Board. Texas State DirectoryRick Perry

Rathgeber will serve as Commissioner until 2015, when she will face the same confirmation process that Kitzman failed to conquer.  Rathgeber has a clean slate with potential for major impact.  How she handles the steady increase in property rates, the impeding hurricane season and how her office harnesses the economic boom in the state will seal her fate in 2015.

Thank you for reading the blog of AUI, Inc. MGA & Surplus Lines Broker.image

The End of Distracted Driving? – Continued

Earlier this week we posted an article about distracted driving and various movements to reduce the exposure.  In this article we discussed a government grant that was given to Massachusetts and Connecticut to spot texting offenders on the road as well as a new mobile application that aims tto prevent distracted driving by disabling a phone’s functionality while it is in the hands of a driver.

We received a tweet from @freshgreenlight later that afternoon with more information to contribute to the discussion of distracted driving.

* Fresh Green Light describes themselves as a “21st Century driving school” with locations in Rye, NY, Greenwich, CY and Darien, CT. 

Here’s what we found:

Insurance Companies HAVE already joined the cause to prevent against distracted driving.  Esure has developed a free app for Android phones that disables various apps and blocks phone calls and texts while drivers are traveling in excess of 10 mph.  The DriveOFF application has yet to offer discounts or incentives to download.

DriveScribe is another free app that focuses on monitoring driving habits of young drivers.  The system blocks text messages and calls while also reporting speed to the administering party.  The app can also detect whether a driver has blown a stop sign or not.

Canary certainly dominates the monitoring aspect of distracted driving, but does little to prevent said behavior.  The app lets parents see phone use and exact driver location in real-time.  The app will also send notifications to parents when their driver enters “restricted zones” that can be established.  This app will have success with those who behave when they know they are being monitored.

We have also found a very helpful map that communicates how quickly this country has adapted safe driving laws in regards to texting and driving.  The map can be found here from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

While new model vehicles are being equipped with their own on-board computing systems, the communication between phone and car will begin to optimize for safer and more convenient travel.  Until the day that driverless cars rule the road, there will always be risk for distracted driving, but until then, it is up to entrepreneurs and investors to create safer and more secure solutions to prevent accidents.

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