Gov. Perry Urges Insurers to Bring Business to Texas

May 10, 2004

Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently told a group of key insurance company executives that one of his top priorities is working to make Texas a great place for new companies to do business.

According to the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, the executives were in Texas at the invitation of both the governor and the IIAT to take a close look at the state as a new business venue.

“The state’s revised insurance regulations, its tort reforms, business-friendly climate and ready workforce all combine to make Texas an attractive and promising state in which to do business,” Perry told the group. “Texas is a place where companies can grow and prosper with the blessing of the Governor.”

The day long round of meetings began over breakfast where IIAT President Jim Berger and IIAT Executive Director David VanDelinder reviewed the history and current state of the industry in Texas and provided a broad analysis going forward.

“When we talk to our members, other agents and carrier representatives we hear again and again how the market in Texas is coming back strong now that the mold crisis is a historical artifact,” VanDelinder said. “We believe the market will continue to improve, making Texas an ideal place to expand insurance operations.”

VanDelinder’s assessments were echoed by Rick Gentry, executive director, Insurance Council of Texas and Jerry Johns, president, Southwestern Insurance Information Service. All three agreed that following the mold setback, homeowners insurance particularly and insurance generally had turned the corner in Texas.

Texas Insurance Commissioner José Montemayor, addressing the group in the governor’s public reception room in the capitol, said that his data and performance reports provide a strong indicator that the insurance market in Texas “is back to normal.” He said the legislature and his department have worked through the “logjam of losses and other problems to get the market back in balance.”

Montemayor then ticked off the health of the state’s important classes saying auto continues to be a profitable line largely because it is agile and can respond with rapid changes in pricing as market conditions dictate.

“And homeowners is moving toward that same kind of flexibility now that we have adopted a market-oriented approach to insurance regulation. I think the market in the new Texas is working very well and we see no reason to come up with a new plan,” Montemayor said. The state will have a fully implemented file and use system in place by December, he stated.

Montemayor said his department is also working to bring new companies to the state. “We have a new business development section because I think it is important to have a wide array of companies that can meet the various needs of the market.”

In an hour-long session Perry detailed his vision for building a robust business climate in Texas. “The economy is hot and it will only get hotter,” he said pointing to some of the larger companies that are coming into the state including a new Toyota plant in Central Texas.

Rod Bordelon, public insurance counsel and executive director of the Office of Public Insurance Counsel told the group in brief remarks that his office is responsible for ensuring that consumers are fairly represented in all insurance matters.

Phil Wilson of the governor’s economic development staff reviewed the strengths of the state’s economy and the governor’s economic development initiative and Ron Lehman, the Texas Workforce Commissioner representing employers, explained how his office is positioned to provide a wide range of employment services to new companies entering the state.

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