Texas Consumer Group: Voters Favor Homeowners Insurance Reform

October 20, 2010

The Austin-based consumer advocacy group, Texas Watch Foundation, says a statewide public opinion survey revealed that an average of 74 percent of voters are likely to vote for candidates who favor real home insurance reforms

The survey, conducted by polling firm Hill Research Consultants on behalf of Texas Watch showed an electorate divided between incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry (42 percent) and Democratic challenger Bill White (41 percent), with a significant bloc of voters (14 percent) still uncommitted to either candidate.

White has previously said homeowners insurance rates are too high and that he favors reforms that require prior approval of homeowners insurance rate changes.

Among the survey results:

  • Prior Approval: Requiring companies submit and justify rate increases for review by the Department of Insurance before they could go in to effect, not after – 73 percent approve; 17 percent disapprove
  • Fair Claims: Giving consumers stronger legal remedies and enhancing damages and sanctions if companies unfairly deny, delay, or underpay legitimate claims – 77 percent approve; 12 percent disapprove;
  • Uniform Standards: Requiring companies offer a few standard policies written in plain language that would be consistent across the industry – 85 percent approve; 7 percent disapprove
  • Neutral Review: Prohibiting insurance companies from using a person’s credit rating when deciding whether to charge higher prices or deny coverage – 52 percent approve vs. 37 percent disapprove
  • Direct Election: making the insurance commissioner a state-wide elected position, rather than appointed by the governor – 84 percent approve vs. 11 percent disapprove

“Voters want leaders to stand tall on insurance reform,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of the Texas Watch Foundation, in a statement announcing the poll results. “Candidates cannot hide from this issue. Texans are looking for leaders to deliver results that will hold insurance companies accountable for their prices, coverage, and claims handling.”

Questionnaire design, fielding and analysis was conducted by Hill Research Consultants, which Texas Watch says has ties to the Republican party. To avoid bias, particular care was taken to carefully order questions and use neutral language when describing legislative proposals. The survey of 600 Texas voters was conducted Aug. 25 – 29; margin of error: + 4.0 percent.

Source: Texas Watch Foundation

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