Homeowners insurance shows up in gubernatorial campaign

AUSTIN’The cost of home-owner’s insurance has shown up as a rider on this year’s list of gubernatorial campaign issues. Republican incumbent Rick Perry has asked Attorney General John Cornyn to look into the pricing practices of the larger companies providing home insurance coverage. And Democratic contender Tony Sanchez has said he would like to see more attention paid to regulating rates. The real winner in this contest may be the homeowner, since both party candidates seem sympathetic to the problem. The insurance industry says it is just being used for political purposes. ‘We’re an easy target,’ said Rick Gentry, head of the Insurance Council of Texas. The industry has said its premium increases can be attributed to catastrophic losses in Texas last year and the year before, including a sizable blow from Tropical Storm Allison. Though the Texas Department of Insurance does regulate rates, there is a big loophole. A law designed to enable high-risk and hard-to-insure property coverage allows insurance companies to have unregulated affiliates. That has resulted in about 95 percent of policies sold in Texas being unregulated. One possibility being kicked around is legislation that would in effect put the state in the homeowner’s insurance business. TKO for Tyson in Metroplex The Texas Motor Speedway could have been a contender for the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight, but TMS General Manager Eddie Gossage has said no to hosting the touted heavyweight bout. ‘With all the baggage that Tyson carries with him, it’s just not worth it for us to be involved,’ Gossage told the Austin American-Statesman. Gossage’s decision still does not mean that a Tyson-Lewis fight is down for the count in the Lone Star State. Tyson manager Shelly Finkel said Tyson is interested in San Antonio’s Alamodome as a possible match venue. Location aside, whether Tyson and Lewis duke it out in Texas depends on the action of a state agency’the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Agency director Bill Kuntz has made no comment on whether he leans toward approving a license for Tyson, who was convicted of rape in Indiana in 1992. From TNRCC to TCEQ For the acronymically challenged, that’s Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The last session of the Legislature mandated the agency name change, effective next Sept. 1. That gave time for department personnel to redo the agency’s stationery, signage and other materials bearing the old name. Don’t call us’ Evidently a lot of Texans don’t like calls from telephone solicitors. Under a new law setting up a state don’t-call list, the Public Utility Commission began signing up people for the list on Jan. 1. So far, more than 200,000 folks have said, in effect, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’ Though there are some exclusions, companies are barred from calling people who have placed their names on the list. It costs $2.25 to get on the list, which is updated quarterly. The phone bank companies have to pay $45 for the lists.

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