Insurance Bosses

June 29, 2013

Most insurance law attorney will keep up with the news related to the insurance field. The Dallas Morning News ran an article recently that is good news for consumers of insurance products. The title of the article is "Texas Senate Forcing Out State Insurance Commissioner." The author is Terrence Shultz. He keeps up with these issues in Austin and gets good information. Here is what the article tells us:
Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman will apparently have to step down as the state's top insurance regulator because she cannot garner the necessary Senate votes for confirmation.
Kitzman, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry nearly two years ago, has faced opposition from Democrats and Republicans in the upper chamber, several senators say. To remain as commissioner, she would need the support of at least two-thirds of senators in the current legislative session.
Senate Nominations Committee Chairman Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, said Thursday that he was posting the agenda for his last meeting of the session, to be held Monday, and it did not include Kitzman's name.
In fact, Perry never reappointed Kitzman as commissioner after her original term expired in February -- in large part because of opposition to her nomination in the Senate.
"The vote would be close, but it does not appear she would have the votes in the nominations committee, much less the full Senate," Hegar said. "The opposition is bipartisan."
Senate Democrats, in particular, were unhappy with Kitzman's tenure, during which she rarely questioned homeowners' policy rate increases that the state's largest property insurers filed.
"We have had an opportunity to see her in action, and I continue to believe she is not an insurance commissioner who protects consumers," said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Kirk Watson of Austin.
Watson, a member of the nominations committee, said objections to Kitzman are varied. She also drew vigorous criticism from consumer groups such as Texas Watch over the rate increases.
The governor's office did not mount a strong campaign to secure Kitzman's confirmation, Watson said.
"While the governor's office wanted to see her confirmed, I did not see as strong of a push as one would expect for a commissioner of insurance," he said. "They may have recognized there was bipartisan displeasure with her appointment."
Hegar acknowledged that residents of coastal areas in his district were unhappy with what has happened to their insurance rates in recent years. But he called Kitzman a "very competent commissioner who worked very hard" to deal with several difficult issues during her tenure.
Kitzman, a Houston native and former insurance executive, had been the chief insurance regulator in South Carolina before she was tapped by Perry in July 2011. She also ran for lieutenant governor of South Carolina in 2010, but lost in the Republican primary.
Perry will name a replacement for Kitzman, who would not face Senate confirmation until the next legislative session.
It is noteworthy to point out again what is in the article. That is that this was a bipartisan decision by the Texas Senate which is largely controlled by Republican Conservatives who are largely considered to be very pro-business. Kitzman had to be making decisions that were not just in favor of insurance companies but decisions that were detrimental to the insurance consumer.
The non-profit consumer watch group, Texas Watch was very helpful in getting information to state Senators regarding the acting Commissioner.