On April 15, 2020, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) issued a bulletin encouraging insurers to conduct midterm premium audits of commercial policies where premiums may need to be adjusted as a result of reduced business operations due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott on March 31, 2020, issued Executive Order GA 14 renewing social distancing guidelines in Texas. Of particular significance to the insurance industry, the Governor’s Order adopted U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidance establishing insurance services as “essential services” and classifying members of the insurance industry as federally identified “essential critical infrastructure workers” under the broader heading of “Financial Services.”
On March 27, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court, in Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Company v. Beasley, No. 18-0469, decided whether “an injured plaintiff had standing to bring suit against his personal injury protection (PIP) policy insurer after the insurer paid the incurred medical expenses pursuant to the PIP policy, but the amount the PIP insurer paid was the negotiated rate between the plaintiff’s health care insurer and the medical providers—not the medical providers’ list rate.”
Federal and State environmental agencies are modifying their usual compliance procedures, including deadlines, to accommodate the various challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a number of States initially indicated that they would exercise enforcement discretion, as a result of the pandemic, on March 26, 2020, the United States EPA (“EPA”) announced a ground breaking temporary enforcement policy to address the pandemic’s effects.
The Texas Medical Board, with direction and assistance from Governor Abbott’s administration, is issuing and implementing various temporary rules and guidance to help Texas physicians, physician assistants and other health care professionals respond to COVID-19.
In Richards v. State Farm Lloyds, — S.W.3d —, 2020 WL 1313782 (Tex. Mar. 20, 2020), the Texas Supreme Court answered a certified question from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals about the scope of an insurer’s duty to defend its insured against third-party claims. In determining whether an insurer has a duty to defend, Texas generally uses the “eight corners rule,” under which an insurer’s duty to defend is determined by comparing the claims alleged within the four corners of the petition with the coverage provided within the four corners of the policy.
Based on orders issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in response to COVID-19, the Texas Department of Insurance has announced that certain licensing requirements and fees have been suspended for Texas-licensed insurance agents, adjusters, title agents, escrow officers, life settlement brokers, and life settlement providers.