November 29, 2016 Practice Points

Insurer Withdraws Its Proposal to Offer Lower Premiums in Return for Arbitration

By Karl Bayer

The Texas Farm Bureau reportedly has abandoned a proposal that would have allowed insureds to relinquish their right to sue the company in the event of a claim dispute in exchange for a lower premium on their homeowners' insurance policy. Under the proposal, insureds who opt to pre-emptively sign away their right to bring suit, would be required to resolve any disputes through a mandatory mediation-arbitration process with the Farm Bureau.

In July, the Texas Department of Insurance held a public meeting in Austin regarding the insurer's request. Insurance lobbyists, consumer advocates, and attorneys offered comments at a contentious five-hour public meeting. Last week, Texas Farm Bureau formally withdrew its proposal from consideration. At the time, Texas Insurance Commissioner David Mattax had not yet issued a decision regarding the insurance company's request for approval of its proposed endorsement. Although the Farm Bureau's mandatory mediation-arbitration endorsement proposal is now closed, it seems likely that the issue will be raised again at some point in the future.

Keywords: alternative dispute resolution, litigation, adr, homeowners' insurance, pre-dispute arbitration, lower premiums, Texas Farm Bureau

Karl Bayer is the founder of Karl Bayer Dispute Resolution in Austin, Texas.

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