Texas: Leading the Way for Insurance Consumers During COVID-19
Texas is one of the largest insurance markets in the world and is the second most populous state in the United States. Each day, life insurers pay out $96.4 million in life insurance and annuities benefits to Texas families and businesses.
The life insurance industry also provides good jobs and long-term investment capital that spurs economic growth. In Texas, it generates 234,900 jobs, invests $507 billion in Texas’ economy and provides $49 billion in mortgage loans on farms, residential and commercial property.
COVID-19 threatened to severely disrupt the industry and life insurers’ ability to serve their customers. Fortunately, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) quickly considered important accommodations to benefit consumers and to support industry operations. The regulatory expectations were established early by TDI on an industry call that included the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) and the Texas Association of Life and Health Insurers (TALHI). TDI staff made themselves available to industry representatives as they juggled a balanced approach that respected consumer protections while providing clear rules for ACLI and TALHI members.
As a result, Texas was one of the first states to promote temporary licenses which helped Texans return to work while providing security to consumers who needed our products most. At a time when “wet” signatures were required for insurers’ financial filings, TDI allowed electronic signatures as a healthy stop-gap measure. TDI also extended and/or waived certain financial filing and payment deadlines, encouraged grace period accommodations for consumers, lengthened license renewal deadlines, and set aside certain notary requirements.
TDI’s balanced approach and practical leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic was very effective. Many states led in their own unique way. But Texas led on every front while protecting consumers and promoting the strong commitment our members have made to the Texas economy.
No doubt, COVID-19 will have ripple effects on consumers, businesses, and regulators for generations. Let’s let Texas serve as a beacon of success as states consider permanently modernizing regulatory accommodations in a way that puts consumers first while simultaneously providing a steady environment for life insurers to operate.