This page provides background, reaction, and links to HHII supported Property Insurance Clarity Bills

Need for Transparency

Reaction to Bills

The Bills

Homeowners insurance: Let's mitigate and disclose, too

By Dan Hanson, Special to the Press-Register

Read original at al.com

As to strategies that fix the coastal homeowners insurance crisis: Mitigate. Mitigate. Mitigate.

But while pursuing this strategy of making houses stronger in order to reduce premiums, let’s enforce existing laws, too.

Alabama law requires the state  Department of Insurance to prohibit “unfairly discriminatory” premiums.  Coastal counties paid the state average in 2006. Today, they pay over 300 percent more than the $900 average.  Are the coastal counties really 300 percent more expensive?

Short-term hurricane catastrophe models were introduced in 2006, the same year this crisis began.  One of the nation’s most respected modelers told the Department of Insurance last year that it overestimated hurricane losses on the coast by as much as 50 percent and underestimated upstate costs by as much as 400 percent.  The inventor of these highly experimental models publicly repudiates her invention.

Historically, FEMA declared 65 of Alabama’s 67 counties disasters after Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  (Remember former state Sen. Lowell Barron, who said, “I live 400 miles from the beach.  I don’t have to be for your insurance bill”? His was one of the disaster counties.) 

In 2009, Alabama insurers suffered a minus-24 percent return on equity.  2009? What hurricane hit the coast that year? 

Hurricane catastrophe models don’t take tornadoes and hail into account.  Five “catastrophic” wind and hail events occurred in upstate Alabama in 2011 — four in addition to the tragic April 27 tornadoes.  More than 200 “severe” hail events hit Alabama last year.  More than 500 tornadoes have hit Alabama since Ivan.

The Department of Insurance publicly acknowledges insurance companies charge the coast more for fire insurance, a difference that has a 25-year history and isn’t actuarially justified. 

Are coastal counties really 300-plus percent more expensive?  The simple way to find out would be to compare the aggregate cost of coastal and upstate claims.  But guess what: The Department of Insurance doesn’t collect this data.  That’s where the proposed Clarity Bill comes in.  It requires the Department of Insurance to collect and make public aggregate — not individual company — claims and premiums by ZIP code.  If the coast is no more costly than the rest of the state, Alabama law requires the Department of Insurance to stop unfair price discrimination. 

Pursued incorrectly, mitigation strategies implant systemic injustices,, like forcing some families to pay even more.  With 175,000 coastal houses, it’s “a generational solution.”  Still, the Homeowners Hurricane Insurance Initiative has supported mitigation from its earliest days.  Carefully implemented, this government intrusion into individual liberties — legally-required stronger houses — might properly lower some premiums.

Meanwhile, enforcing existing law could have almost immediate and dramatic impact, reducing premiums to the state average. 

The Clarity Bill, with its data-based fairness, is so sensible that most people are amazed that its requirements are not already in force.  So, why not aggressively pursue this, too?

 Posted 3/12/2012

IS COASTAL ALABAMA MORE EXPENSIVE TO REPAIR
THAN THE REST OF THE STATE?

HHII asks if coastal Alabama is indeed more expensive to repair than the rest of the state.

The Department of Insurance does not collect data by zip code or county. It is unable to produce a 20-year history of claims in Mobile or Baldwin Counties to compare with the same period of time in, say, Birmingham or Huntsville.

There have been more than 400 tornadoes in Alabama since Hurricane Ivan.  FEMA declared 65 of 67 Alabama's counties disaster areas after Ivan.  Strong circumstantial evidence indicates the coastal counties are no more expensive to repair due to wind and hail than the state average. 

If our coastal counties are more expensive, the difference is not hundreds of percent. The state average for a $150,000 house, for wind, hail, fire etc, with a $500 deductible, is about $900.

If we are no more expensive to repair than the rest of the state, then the DOI should enforce fair premiums throughout the state.

HHII believes that the DOI should collect, by zip code, by peril, an aggregate annual total of losses; total of premiums and number of policies. It also believes the DOI should use the data as a guide when enforcing fair pricing around the state.

Posted 11/20/2010

HHII MEETS WITH UPSTATE LEGISLATORS

As part of its educational strategy about the importance of SB2, HHII was able to schedule meetings in Montgomery with several influential upstate legislators on May 4, 2011. 

In setting up the meetings it became apparent that none of the senators or representatives HHII talked to knew anything about SB2 and the rationale behind it. They all assume the coast is more expensive to repair than the rest of the state and have no idea that the DOI isn't collecting data in such a way as to determine if that is true. They were totally uninformed.

 Revised 5/5/2011

Rationale for the Property Insurance Clarity Bill

Posted 3/2/2011

WHY HHII WANTS THE BILL

HHII believes the most effective way to determine if the insurance rates charged coastal county residents are fair and equitable is by making each county's  paid claims and collected premiums data visible to the public.  To achieve this, HHII is supporting a Department of Insurance Transparency Bill.  Transparency Bills were introduced in both houses by our local legislators at the last legislative session but failed to make it out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.  Bills are now being modified to include commercial property in addition to homeowners insurance.  HHII intends  to urge our legislatures to introduce and champion these Transparency Bills in the 2011 session.

Posted 10/22/2010

WHY TRANSPARENCY IS NEEDED

 The public needs to see the state insurance department's data, its actuarial models and other material, as is possible in other states, such as Missouri. We're told over and over that it's more costly to insure our coastal counties. Since when? We've been insured at about the same price as the rest of the state for generations. What's changed? Senator Tripp Pittman says his research indicates 65% of the claims for one insurance company were in counties outside of Mobile and Baldwin. An insurance association web page says 1,200 tornadoes hit the US a year. How do we know that the coastal counties are more expensive to insure?  What were the actual aggregate costs of claims after Ivan and Katrina on a county-by-county basis all over the state? What about county-by-county claims each year during the 25 years between Hurricanes Frederic and Ivan? The Department ofInsurance won't release this information. The Insurance Commissioner's office permits large disparities in what coastal counties are charged for fire insurance (see related MPR news article 4/5/2009). If it permits this, why should we believe it's making sure the coastal counties are treated fairly for wind and hail?

The best way to settle this is by opening up the State Insurance Commission to the public. It would show whether the coastal counties are more expensive than inland counties and, if so, whether they're 15% more expensive, 50% or more. Not only that: people around the state, not just in the coastal counties, would probably benefit if the Alabama Department of Insurance is more transparent.  Most people we talk to about this seem surprised to learn that it's not transparent already.

Original Post

Insurance Reports from Missouri Department of Insurance

 This is the transparency HHII wants from Alabama's DOI

CLARITY ACT PUBLIC DEADLINE NOW NOVEMBER 15

The Clarity Act requires admitted insurance companies in Alabama to submit to the AL DOI by October 21, 2013, computations of their total direct incurred losses, the number of policies in force, and the direct earned premium for the prior calendar year.

The DOI will compile this information and post on their website, by November 15, the aggregated totals by zip code for the prior year.  The Act also requires the DOI to post general descriptions of the rate-making methodology that the department allows insurance companies to use in establishing their homeowners rates.

HHII believes this information will enable consumers to judge for themselves the fairness of homeowners' premiums charged throughout the state.

Revised 11/2/2013

HHII REACTS TO PASSAGE OF CLARITY BILL

Only a few months ago experts, lobbyists, many legislators and the media predicted that the Clarity Bill was dead on arrival. The faithful work of our coastal legislators and consumers demonstrates what can happen when people of good will work together.

HHII particularly appreciates Senator Trip Pittman's diligence and dogged work for passage of the bill. The momentum he built for the altered the course of events midway through the session.

All coastal legislators – Democrat and Republican - are to be praised for their remarkable work in getting The Clarity Bill (SB210) passed in the State Legislature.

This is an excellent first step.

As a church-based organization, we thank God for all the times that He gave us breakthroughs in some of the darkest moments.

Productive insurance industry participation helped craft a bill, we believe it is the most that can be accomplished in the current legislative environment. As passed it has several significant changes from the wording HHII would have preferred. Even so, it has the potential to bring much needed data to light.

HHII trusts the insurance companies will continue to cooperate in good faith to provide the information necessary to make a meaningful comparison of insurance costs throughout the state.

Posted 5/8/2012

CLARITY BILL UNDER ATTACK

HHII appreciates and thanks Senator Pittman for his diligence in ensuring revisions proposed in committee to SB210, possibly by ALFA, would not render the bill meaningless.

The bill which came out of committee is still under attack and several rewrites which would eviscerate it are being proposed , , .

Call your representative and ask him to support the bill.  Here are some talking points to help you make a convincing case

Posted 2/29/2012

FAIRHOPE SUPPORTS CLARITY BILL

Fairhope City Council approved a resolution of support for the Clarity Bill at their 2/14/2011 meeting.  Thanks and congratulations are due to Councilwoman Debbie Quinn and the work of Sarah Harris and Jonny Chaney and PFAC in general.

Posted 2/17/2011

BALDWIN COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS SUBMITS RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT TRANSPARENCY BILL

Baldwin County has asked parent Alabama Association of Realtors to support the Transparency Bill and make it a high priority on their legislative agenda.

Read resolution

Posted 12/16/2010

BALDWIN LEGISLATORS SUPPORT BILL

Sen. Brooks has committed to sponsor the Transparency Bill in 2011. He is ready to submit our bill yesterday!!!  He wants the final version ASAP so he can submit it to Legsialtive Reference Service.  He would like to have it go into the Senate as the first bill for the next session, getting it labelled Senate Bill 1.

Rep. Faust is similarly supportive.

Look for more detailed reports on Legislative news page soon.

Updated 11/30/2010

Coastal Recovery Commission of Alabama
Insurance Subcommittee Ignores HHII Input

The last meeting of the Insurance Subcommittee on November 11, 2010 the sub-committee totally repudiated what had been agreed upon in the October 29 meeting.  First they refused to agree specifically to reference the HHII Transparency Bill and forced the vote on including “a” transparency bill that the legislature would work out.  In the final recommendations,  not even the words 'Transparency Bill' appear, as you can see from the November 11 Discussion Notes & Final Recommendations .

There were widely divergent views on what these words meant with at least one insurance representative stating the information HHII sought was impossible to provide.  Others equated it with making rate filings public.  It is clear the insurance companies are adamently and unanimously against any transparency bill.

You can read all the Discussion Notes, the Final Recommendations, and find more information about the Insurance Subcommittee here.

Updated 11/25/2010

Transparency Bills Killed
in Alabama Legislature Regular Session 2010

At State Senator Lowell Barron's direction, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted down all six coastal insurance bills on March 31, 2010, including Transparency Bills.

Original Post

HB 713 Gets Surprise Public Hearing
March 25, 2010

The Transparency Bill had a Public Hearing in the House Banking and Insurance Committee Thursday, March 25, 2010. 

According to what the House Clerk told us, it was requested in letter form by the Lobbyist Firm Fine and Geddy (spelling?), one of the more prestigious lobbyist firms in Montgomery, one of several that represent insurance companies. The letter was delivered Tuesday or Wednesday. The annoucement of the Public Hearing was posted on the House website at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The hearing then held Thursday.  Rep Joe Faust indicates that the Lobbyist request for a sudden Public Hearing on the Transparency Bill resulted from his (Joe's) push to get the bill out of committee on Wednesday.

Clever, quick move by the insurance lobbyists. Keeps the public out, don't you think? 

Hmmmm. This is encouraging. When lobbyists use smooth procedural tricks to single out and shut down one of 19 insurance bills in the hopper, that suggests to me there's concern about the sensibility and potential of the bill. 

As we understand it right now, no action was taken.  No moves have been made in the Senate. 

Question: if a letter written by a lobbyist can create a public hearing, can a letter written by normal people do the same? 

Here's a few phone numbers if you have time: 
Clerk of the House (who has the info on how the hearing got snuck into existence):
Brandy: 334-353-3944 
Chairman of the House Banking and Insurance Committee is Rep Leslie Vance (D) 334-242-7687 or 334-242-7600 

Comittee activity days are usually Wednesdays not Thursdays. The hearing was not on the House web site Monday.

Original Post

'Clarity Acts' could reveal reasons for high home insurance rates in your state

Read 7/2/2014 post by Ed Leefeldt on 'The Fine Print – Presented by Insure.com'

Posted 7/4/2014

State insurance officials expect a two week delay for Clarity Act databases

From post by Michael Finch II on al.com 10/30/2013

Alabama Department of Insurance officials said Wednesday that the property insurance databases expected to be out by Nov. 1 will be delayed for as long as two weeks in order to double check the statistics for accuracy.

There was some data that they wanted to look at that was causing the delay, said Mark Fowler, governmental relations manager for the department.

“We’re getting this information from companies and they want to make sure that everything they have received is what they've asked for,” Fowler said.

State lawmakers passed the Property Insurance Clarity Act last year, which required certain insurers in the state to submit catastrophic weather event data by zip code. The deadline for companies to turn in the data was Oct. 1, 2013.

When complete, consumers would be able to examine the number of claims made as far back as 2007, unless a company agreed to offer more.

HHII Comment: 
and when an HHII representative called the AL DOI office to ask for the Data Call (claims data by zip code that has to be submitted to FEMA) after Hurricane Ivan AL DOI said - that data is not in our files anymore.

Posted 10/30/2013

PROPERTY INSURANCE CLARITY ACT

Posted 1/20/2013

House Insurance Committee Passes Clarity Bill

Three property insurance bills, SB210, SB230 & SB164, rocketed through the House Insurance Committee today (5/1/2012) and need only the approval of the full House to land on Gov. Robert Bentley's desk.

Read House committee approves three insurance bills at al.com

Posted 5/1/2012

SENATE PASSES CLARITY BILL (SB210)

Thanks to hard work by Sen.Trip Pittman, a much modified version of SB210 was passed by the Senate today, Wednesday, April 25.  Sen. Pittman thinks things look good for passage by the House.

Read Alabama Senate approves homeowners insurance bills at al.com

Posted 4/25/2012

UNDERSTAND INSURANCE TERMINOLOGY

This write-up by an Independent Accounting Professional will help you understand tsome of the insurance industry terms used in the various versions of the Clarity Bill.

Posted 4/17/2012

LATEST ITERATION OF CLARITY BILL (SB210)

On April 4, 2012, Senator Pittman (who is doing a super job fighting for the Clarity Bill) brought the bill back to the Senate Committee on Insurance because there were so many changes made by the lobbyists.

Will HHII get the information it needs on claims in order to see if premiums 300% more than the state average of $850 ($150K house) are justified?? 

Read the bill and tell us what you think at the HHII Forum.

Also, read how the insurance lobbyists are trying to weaken this already watered down version.

Updated 4/6/2012

Homeowners Wind-and-Hail "Clarity Bill" passed out of the Alabama Senate Banking and Insurance Committee
Mardi Gras Day 2012.

This is a milestone.  Baldwin Senator Trip Pittman, sponsor of the bill, steered it past opposition.  SB210 received unanimous approval.  It now goes to the Senate floor where its progress will be more difficult. 

Pittman and Sen. Ben Brooks garnered an increased number of co-sponsors for the bill this year -- co-sponsors from both political parties.  Democratic senators and house members joined Republicans as co-signers, and Democrat as well as the Repubican members of the committee voted for the bill.

Another milestone: one upstate senator co-sponsored the bill this year, too. The Department of Insurance has expressed conditional support.

The Clarity Bill would make Governor Bentley's Department of Insurance reveal a 21-year history of Alabama fire, wind, and hail claims by zip code next January. Unidentified individuals or organizations have already circulated amendments that would eliminate the history of claims, and not make the information available for another two years -- essentially eviscerating the bill of any value.  None of the amendments have been officially introduced, yet.

If passed, the Clarity Bill would make it possible to compare the history of claims in north and south Alabama.  Upstate Alabama has been hit by more than 500 tornadoes since Hurricane Ivan.  Upstate was hit by more than 200 "severe" hail storms last year alone.

Coastal Alabama paid the state average for homeowners insurance prior 2006.  Today the coast pays 300% more than the $900 state average.  If the revealed data shows that coastal Alabama is no more costly than the rest of the state, Alabama law requires the Department of Insurance to prohibit premiums that are "unfairly discriminatory."

Posted 2/24/2012

CLARITY BILL TO HAVE PUBLIC HEARING FEBRUARY 16

SB210, Property & Insurance Clarity Act, will have a public hearing of the 2012 version this Thursday morning. 

This bill would require insurance companies transacting business in the state to provide policy and premium information to the Department of Insurance.  This bill would require the department to provide on the department website aggregate data, separately for homeowners and commercial property insurance policies, of the number of policies written, the direct earned premiums, and the direct incurred losses representing the total of every insurance company doing business in Alabama.  This bill would also require the department to post on the department website a comprehensive description of the actuarial model used by the department for homeowner's and commercial properties risk and other related data.

The bill is being sponsored by Senator Pittman.  It is the third year of trying to get this bill out of committee and into the originating house for action.  Please join HHII in standing with Senator Pittman in Montgomery to show our support for this bill.

 Posted 2/14/2012

CLARITY BILL NOW SB399

SB399 was introduced during the 2011 regular legislative session into the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee by Sen. Brooks on April 21, 2011.  Status is Pending Committee Action in House of Origin.

Posted 6/9/2011

CLARITY BILL (SB2) Final Version

Read final version of Property Insurance Clarity Act .

Posted 2/10/2011

LATEST REVISION TO HB713

Bill to renamed

The Legislative Engagement Committee has whittled the bill into the form that is attached.  Anyone who has time, please read and make final comments.  You can read all the previous bills and submit comments on the HHII Discussion Forum.

Posted 11/30/2010

REVISED TRANSPARENCY BILL (HB713)

Read revised version of HB713 and suggested revisions which will be incorporated before Bill is introduced in 2011 legislative session.

Posted 11/20/2010

Transparency Bills Intoduced in 2010

SB534   & HB713   would have created the Department of Insurance Transparency Act. 
They would require insurance companies transacting business in the state to provide policy and premium information to the Department of Insurance. The bills would require the department to provide on the department website aggregate data of the number of homeowner’s insurance policies and the total dollar amount of premiums collected and claims pending or paid representing the total of every insurance company doing business in Alabama.  The bills would also require the department to post on the department website a comprehensive description of the actuarial model used by the department for homeowner’s risk and other related data.

Original Post

Missouri statutes and regulations for
reporting insurance premium & loss data

This is the transparency HHII wants from Alabama's DOI

Required Format in Reporting Data on Residential Insurance Coverages

Premium & loss data  for homeowners' insurance policies

Premium & loss data  for automobile insurance policies

Posted 11/19/2011

Page last updated 4/20/2014