Procedural Updates

Updated SMART Features Released August 2020

On June 19, 2020, SLTX released portions of its new online filing system, SMART. At this time, surplus lines agents and brokers utilizing the automated filing can begin reviewing necessary changes and testing the new system. A separate communication was sent directly to any existing automated filing agencies, which includes specifics about this latest deployment.

SLTX’s SMART technology uses agile project management methodology, allowing portions of the system to be released as they are developed. This promotes flexibility and adaptability in which changes can be made as needed throughout the process.

The latest release includes “delete” transactions for the application programming interface (API), bug fixes and process improvements, as well as aspects relating to internal filing. Additionally, updates to the API and SMART Connector technical guides as well as the SMART API User Guide have been published. Continued beta testing and feedback by broker users are ongoing and strongly encouraged as testing is the primary mechanism to ensure data related scenarios are handled effectively and efficiently.

Adobe will no longer support Flash by the end of 2020. This led SLTX to reprioritize its development and begin work on the reporting elements of SMART sooner than initially anticipated. Work for this module was originally slated for much later in the project timeline, but as SLTX’s current platform uses Flash to manage report generation and view features, it is necessary to transition completely out of this module before support ends. Delays regarding delivery of additional or new features in SMART which relate to external filing may occur. Once reporting modules are complete, SLTX will resume work on the external filing modules to include manual entry, transaction inquiry, and corrections.

As beta testing and feedback are ongoing, current EFS processes and procedures will continue to be available. Both systems will remain functional and work concurrently until the entire suite of features in SMART are fully delivered.

With each new release or significant deployment, additional notifications will be sent to existing users of SLTX’s Electronic Filing System (EFS).

Please contact the SLTX Tech Support team by email or phone at (512) 531-1880 or (800) 681-5848 with any questions.

Policy Limit Requirements Still in Effect

In accordance with rules promulgated by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), surplus lines policies effective on or after 12/30/2018 must include policy limits (28 TAC §15.106(b)(3)).

To expedite the collection of this data, you should utilize the Policy Limit field within SLTX’s online filing system. This field is available for all new and renewal policies, binders, premium bearing endorsements, and updates. While submission through EFS is preferred, policy limits will still be collected through the file upload portal below. An Excel template may be utilized to transmit the data. The file name must include the SURPLUS LINES TDI License Number. Alternatively, you may submit a declarations page with any supplemental pages as a PDF to comply. The submission methods available are as follows:

  1. EFS Policy Limit field (preferred)
  2. Excel Template (preferred) (MUST USE THIS FORMAT)
  3. PDF Declarations and relevant supplemental pages (PDF)

Multiple documents may be submitted as a zip file through the form on the File Portal Upload page. The max file size limit is 25 MB. If you do not know your SURPLUS LINES TDI License Number, you may look it up on TDI’s Agent Lookup.

While SLTX simplified the policy limit filing to the ‘highest aggregate limit” per policy, there are additional clarifications for the agent community to include:

  • Property Policies– Total Insurable Value (TIV) for all properties on the policy (both in and outside of the state)
  • Liability Policies– Aggregate Limit
  • Package policies(property & liability) – TIV for all properties on the policy (both in and outside of the state)
  • Other – Accident & Health– Maximum Benefit, aka Total Sum (excluding occupational A&H, which are not required to report)

Additionally, SLTX will continue to not reject any filings due to policy limit errors. Policy limit errors will NOT cause a monthly or annual late filing report to TDI.

From the inception, the filing response to include policy limit information to SLTX has been extremely positive. Thus, another reason to thank the hundreds of brokers who are reporting information to our office. Those not yet in compliance are reminded that this regulation stands for all policies effective on or after 12/30/2018. After input from TDI, SLTX should receive a full set of policy limit data for 2020 filings.

For additional assistance, an infographic on policy limit requirements is available on the SLTX website.

If you are unable to comply with this requirement or need additional assistance, please contact the SLTX Tech Support team by phone at (512) 531-1880 or (800) 681-5848 (Option 2) or by email.

Commissioner of Insurance to Review Recommendation to Reduce Stamping Fee for SLTX

The Texas Department of Insurance has provided a notice of recommendation by the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas Board of Directors regarding a decrease in the stamping fee from the current rate of 0.15% of gross premium to 0.075%. Surplus lines agents provide stamping fee payments to the stamping office which in return funds operations within the organization. The final decision will belong to the Commissioner of Insurance to approve any changes made to the stamping fee.

TDI will be accepting public comments regarding the stamping fee decrease as well as the date for which the decrease will go into effect.

A copy of the recommendation and associated documents can be found here.

The Texas Department of Insurance will also accept written comments regarding the decrease of the stamping fee, but they must be submitted before 5 PM, Central Time, on August 27, 2020. Comments can be sent via mail (Office of the Chief Clerk, MC 112-2A, Texas Department of Insurance, P.O. Box 149104, Austin, Texas 78714-9104) or email (ChiefClerk@tdi.texas.gov)

Updated Plan of Operation Posted on SLTX Website

On July 3, 2020, the Texas Commissioner of Insurance released an official order regarding Plan of Operation amendments for the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas.

The updated Plan of Operation can now be viewed on the SLTX website. Additionally, the prior Plan of Operation is also available on the same webpage.

For more information on the background and timeline in addition to the Plan of Operation, please visit Order No. 2020-6384 on the Texas Department of Insurance website.

Texas Commissioner of Insurance Adopts SLTX Plan of Operation

On July 3, 2020, the Texas Commissioner of Insurance released an official order regarding Plan of Operation amendments for the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas.

Prior to the announcement, the Texas Department of Insurance held a public hearing on June 17, 2020 to consider amendments for the SLTX Plan of Operation. Due to COVID-19, the hearing was held via teleconference. The archived meeting can be found here.

Order No. 2020-6384 provides a background and timeline in addition to the adopted Plan of Operation. For further information, please visit the Texas Department of Insurance website.

First SMART Features Released June 2020

SLTX has released portions of its new online filing system, SMART, on June 12, 2020. At this time, surplus lines agents and brokers who file policies with SLTX using automated filing will have the opportunity to begin reviewing the necessary changes and testing the new system. A separate communication has been sent directly to any existing automated filing agency, which includes more specifics about this latest deployment.

The release includes an application programming interface (API), which receives an XML file and adds it to the SLTX database, and the SMART Connector, a platform available for agents and brokers who previously used Vertafore’s Process Manager feature to file policies with SLTX. Additionally, it includes functionality for internal filing, which SLTX staff will use to process transactions.

SLTX’s technology project uses agile project management methodology, which allows portions of the project to be released as they are developed. It also promotes flexibility and adaptability in that changes can be made as needed throughout the process.

This latest release does not yet include capabilities for corrections, reports, downloads or significant inquiries, which should still be completed in SLTX’s Electronic Filing System (EFS). Additional features for agents and brokers who submit policies using data entry will be delivered in future release. This will include support and process improvements based on feedback, while bug fixes for the API and SMART Connector will be made on an ongoing basis. With each new release or significant deployment, additional notifications will be sent to existing users of SLTX’s Electronic Filing System (EFS).

Please contact the SLTX Tech Support team by email or phone at (512) 531-1880 or (800) 681-5848 with any questions.

Commissioner of Insurance to Hold Public Hearing Regarding Amendments to SLTX Plan of Operation

The Texas Department of Insurance has announced a public hearing by the Commissioner of Insurance to be conducted on June 17, 2020 from 1 PM to 5 PM. The public hearing will consider amendments to the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas (SLTX) Plan of Operation. An opportunity for public comments will be available during the hearing. There is a required notice and hearing by Insurance Code Section 981.153(c) before any amendments can be adopted.

Due to COVID-19, the public hearing will be conducted virtually. For more information, the Texas Department of Insurance has provided instructions on how to join and participate in the hearing. Additionally, in the event that an individual cannot access the meeting via mobile or computer, TDI has also provided instructions on how to participate.

A registration form will be provided for individuals planning to attend the public hearing. Registration forms are to be turned in before noon, Central time, on June 15, 2020 for anyone who wishes to speak during the event. Additionally, TDI asks for a summary of testimony to be turned in to ChiefClerk@tdi.texas.gov by noon, Central time, on June 15, 2020. It is crucial to register for Docket No. 2821 for those who are planning to speak. At the time of the event, individuals will be called by name when it is their turn to provide testimony.

The Texas Department of Insurance will also accept written comments regarding any amendments to the Plan of Operation, but they must by submitted before 5 PM, Central time, on June 17, 2020. Comments can be sent via mail (Office of the Chief Clerk, MC 112-2A, Texas Department of Insurance, P.O. Box 149104, Austin, Texas 78714-9104) or email (ChiefClerk@tdi.texas.gov) and must include the docket number.

Texas Department of Insurance Announcements

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) reminds agents and adjusters that the extension deadline to renew resident licenses falls on May 31, 2020. Any licenses expired during the month of March, April, or May will not be penalized with a fine or late fee if continuing education (CE) courses are completed and paid for by May 31st. For more information regarding continuing education courses, please visit the Sircon website. There users can search for self-study and classroom equivalent courses by license type.

Additionally, under bulletin #B-0027-20 ,the Texas Department of Insurance has issued out a data call authorized by Insurance Code Sections 2210.006 and 2210.052. This data call is meant to provide statistical information for 2020 and 2021, if necessary. The Texas Windstorm Association (TWIA) will further use this data for calculations on participation shares in the event they are required for 2020.

Companies that fall under any of the three categories provided by TDI shall receive this data call. This includes companies who may not write any business within the specified Texas catastrophe areas. Areas include the counties of Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Willacy, and portions of Harris County.

Submissions must be completed using a TWIA data call form. Once completed, please email, fax, or mail the document to addresses stated within the instructions. More information as well as TWIA data call materials may be found under bulletin #B-0027-20 on TDI’s website.

Deadline for submissions is no later than July 10, 2020. If there are any questions regarding the data call, TDI’s data services team may be reached via DataCall@tdi.texas.gov or 512-676-6690

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