Texas: Leading the Way for Insurance Consumers During COVID-19

Jun 5, 2020

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.

Tyler Laughlin

Tyler Laughlin was Regional Vice President, State Relations at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Before joining ACLI in 2019, he served as Chief of Staff & First Deputy Commissioner for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Tyler was responsible for state legislative and regulatory affairs in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas and served as ACLI’s lead for the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Jennifer Cawley

Jennifer Cawley, JD, has been the Executive Director of the Texas Association of Life and Health Insurers (TALHI) since 2008. Ms. Cawley has nearly 25 years of experience working in and around the Texas Capitol, both as general counsel for state senators and as a regulator at the Texas Department of Insurance.