TEXAS AND LOCAL UPDATES
Governor Abbott Announces Temporary Pause Of Additional Reopening Phases
Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the State of Texas will pause any further phases to open Texas as the state responds to the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Read more here.
Governor Abbott: COVID-19 Spreading At “Unacceptable Rate” In Texas
Texas Governor Greg Abbott says increases in hospitalizations and the rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 are a concern, but “closing down Texas again will always be the last option.” Read more here.
The Road Back to Business as Usual
While everyone looks forward to the day when we can resume business as usual, we all understand that given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, its side effects will linger for many years to come. Read more here.
San Antonio chef Jason Dady sues over restaurants’ lost business
San Antonio star chef Jason Dady’s restaurants have joined an expanding list of businesses that have sued their insurer for denying coverage for loss of business income caused by stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Read more here.
Texas delegation letter to Sen. McConnell for liability protection
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen sent a letter to US Senate Majority Leader McConnell regarding liability protections for Texas employers. Read the letter here.
Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen sues insurance over pandemic coverage
A group of Houston restaurants and a Beaumont orthodontist are among the latest Texas companies to sue their insurance companies for not fulfilling business interruption insurance claims related to the pandemic. Read more here.
Two TX-based businesses file bad faith lawsuits against Travelers
Two businesses in Texas have each filed lawsuits against Travelers Indemnity Company, accusing the P&C insurer of rejecting their damages and business interruption claims without investigating. Read more here.
Texas leaders weigh whether restaurants and retailers should be liable if customer contracts COVID-19
State leaders in Texas are imploring Congress to consider legal immunity for businesses that reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
Governor Greg Abbott has issued the following: Executive Order No.GA-18 relating to the expanded reopening of services as part of the safe, strategic plan to open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster. Read the order here.
Lt. Gov. Patrick Announces Senate Work Groups to Discuss Pandemic Impact on Texas
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced today that he has established six Senate working groups to discuss challenges the state will face in the next legislative session as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the announcement here.
Frustrated GOP lawmakers want to curb emergency power of Texas cities, counties
Local governments have gone too far in issuing emergency orders during the coronavirus pandemic and can expect to have those powers whittled down when the Texas Legislature meets again, key state lawmakers say. Read more here.
Some Onsite Agent, Adjuster Licensing Exams Now Available in Texas
Texas insurance regulators say agents and adjusters can now take licensing exams at select sites in the state. The testing locations for Pearson VUE, the state’s testing contractor, had previously been closed do to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) says it has authorized Pearson Vue to resume testing at sites where social distancing and safeguards are in place to reduce risks. Read more here.
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Establishing Strike Force To Open Texas
Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where he issued three new Executive Orders to begin the process of reopening the state of Texas while revising hospital capacity and certain social distancing guidelines. Read the orders here.
COVID-19, business interruption and bad faith litigation
Insurers must investigate and evaluate each policyholder’s COVID-19 claim and then thoroughly explain coverage determinations. Read more here.
Valoree Swanson April 13, 2020 Letter to TDI Commissioner Kent Sullivan Regarding Business Interruption – Read the letter here.
San Antonio barbershops sue State Farm after coronavirus insurance claims denied
Since all nonessential businesses were ordered closed last month to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Shayne Brown figures his seven shuttered San Antonio-area barbershops have lost a combined $1 million in revenue. “We’re just dead in the water,” Brown said, adding he’s had to furlough 120 employees. Read more here. (subscription may be required)
Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton Opinion No. KP-0299
Application of the temporary tax exemption for qualified property damaged by a disaster, as set forth in section 11.35(g) of the Tax Code (RQ-0345-KP). Read the opinion here.
Rep. Mayes Middleton letter to Commissioner Kent Sullivan
State Representative Mayes Middleton asks Commissioner Kent Sullivan to begin an investigation into the wholesale denial of business interruption claims in Texas. Read the letter here.
Lt. Gov. Patrick Appoints Business Task Force to Re-Start the Economy: Brint Ryan Will Chair
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced the establishment of a task force to work on recommendations and strategies for restarting the economy once President Trump and Governor Abbott announce that businesses can reopen. The task force will be comprised of business leaders from the Business Advisory Council he established when he was first elected in 2014. Read the press release here.
Dallas County issued their revised “Safer at Home Order” on April 2, 2020, read the order here. The county’s initial order was issued on March 31. 2020, read the order here.
Governor Abbott Further Clarifies His Executive Order
As more and more communities around the United States experience, a rising number of Coronavirus cases, state and federal officials are looking at ways to further prevent community spread, ensure public safety and combat the rising economic impact. Read the article here.
Out of State Claims Adjusters exempt from travel-related quarantine
Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-14 adopted the CISA Guidance identifying essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 response. If a company falls under one of the critical infrastructure sectors identified by the guidance linked below, the company is now exempt from the travel-related quarantine orders required under Executive Orders GA-11 and GA-12. Employees of companies covered by the CISA Essential Critical Infrastructure Guidance should carry a letter from their employer identifying them as such and stating that they are traveling for a business purpose. Read the CISA Essential Critical Infrastructure Guidance document here.
Memo Re BI Goes to Members of the Texas Legislature
Friday, a memo was sent to the members of the Texas House Insurance Committee and the Senate Business & Commerce Committee (the committees with jurisdiction over P&C matters) providing an overview of business interruption coverage, various coverage exclusions, and background on the pandemic exclusion. The memo was prepared by Jay with the feedback of the other trade reps. In times like these, it is especially important to maintain communication with our leadership in the Legislature and be a resource whenever possible. Read the memo here.
Coronavirus in Texas: Trump issues major disaster declaration for the state
President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued a major disaster declaration for Texas as the state grapples with a growing number of coronavirus cases. Read more here.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, issued the State’s first shelter-in-place order on March 22, 2020. The order requires for all individuals anywhere in Dallas County to shelter in place (stay at home), with the exception for certain essential activities and essential businesses and services. The order refers to financial services as “essential.” The federal government has issued orders designating insurance as part of financial services. Read the entire Amended Declaration of Local Disaster for Public Health Emergency Order here.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, issued a Shelter in Place Order defining Stay at home, essential and non-essential businesses and prohibited activities among other topics. Travis, Williamson and Dallas counties as well as a growing list of cities, including Waco, are also following their own Shelter in Place order. Read Mayor Adler’s Order here.
Here is a related story from the Texas Tribune.
Governor Issues Executive Order
Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Mandating 14-Day Quarantine For Travelers Arriving From New York Tri-State Area, New Orleans. Read the order here.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a Stay Home, Work Safe order that went into effect at 11:59 pm on March 24, 2020 and will remain in effect until April 3, 2020. The order requires all individuals anywhere in Harris County to stay at home with the exception of certain essential activities and work to provide essential business. Essential business includes professional services, which includes insurance services. Read Judge Hidalgo’s Order here.
Governor Issues Executive Order
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order relating to COVID-19 mitigation and preparation. Click here to read the entire statement.
Coronavirus impacts Agent and Adjuster Licensing
TDI announced the temporary closing of testing centers. TDI website provides information on provisional licensing and more.
State Representative Eddie Lucio III (D-38), Chairman of the Texas House Insurance Committee, wrote a letter to Governor Greg Abbott in part stating, “Policy holders have pointed out widespread concern that coverages they purchased, such as business interruption insurance, may not be honored by commercial insurance carriers. As Chair of the House Committee on Insurance, I intend to ensure that the Committee studies this issue and provide consumers with certainty that they are able to utilize the policies they paid for.” Given his leadership role, we can expect that the House Committee on Insurance will examine this issue during the course of the interim. Read the complete letter here.