Texas Department of Insurance

By: Dick Smith

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: August 5, 2020

The state legislature's authorization for the Board of Insurance Commissioners became effective April 18, 1876, though this agency actually began its operations in 1875, first under the State Comptroller of Public Accounts, but transferred its operations the following year to the Commissioner of Insurance, Statistics, and History under the Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History, as authorized by the state's constitution and as prescribed by the legislature. From 1887 until 1927 the supervision of insurance companies was handled by the Commissioner of Agriculture, Insurance, Statistics, and History (1887–1907), the Commissioner of Insurance and Banking (1907–13), and the State Insurance Commission, of which the Commissioner of Insurance and Banking (called Commissioner of Insurance and administering to the Department of Insurance after the establishment of the Banking Department in 1923) was a member (1913–27). In 1927 the legislature established the Board of Insurance Commissioners, composed of three members, appointed by the governor for six-year terms. The Board of Insurance Commissioners was abolished in 1957 with the establishment of the State Board of Insurance, also composed of three gubernatorial appointees serving six-year terms. The board determined policy, made rules, determined rates, and heard appeals. Administrative functions were left to the commissioner of insurance, who was appointed by the board. The agency's primary functions included chartering insurance companies, examining them periodically to see if they still met the requirements of Texas laws, licensing out-of-state insurance companies to do business in Texas, and licensing insurance agents. The agency approved policy forms. It also determined rates for all fire and casualty insurance. In 1991 the state legislature voted to change the agency. As the Texas Department of Insurance it implemented major reforms in insurance rating practices in 1992, issuing 145 orders carrying out mandates of these reforms. These orders ranged from massive revisions of the rules governing long-term care and Medicare supplement insurance to the requirement to provide bilingual notices of insurance companies' toll-free numbers. Beyond making such rules, the agency initiated new rate regulatory systems prescribed by the legislature to encourage competition, stabilize rates, and enhance the availability of insurance coverages to the public. Because such insurance reforms strengthened the agency's efforts against insolvency by the end of 1992, Texas became the fourteenth state to win accreditation of its financial regulation program by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. By 1994 the three-member board was replaced with one commissioner. Some of the department's responsibilities were transferred to other state agencies. The Comptroller's Office assumed the tax operations; the State Office of Administrative Hearings conducted hearings; the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission took over worker compensation data. Other changes included the establishment of committees to conduct studies of issues such as motor vehicle insurance and health maintenance organizations. Like other accredited states, Texas must undergo future periodic review by the NAIC to assure it continues to conform to NAIC standards.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dick Smith, “Texas Department of Insurance,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-department-of-insurance.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 5, 2020