Procedural Updates

Regulatory Update: New Complaint Notice Required Beginning May 1

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has adopted a revised complaint notice for surplus lines insurance policies, which must be implemented no later than May 1, 2020.

All policies issued on or after this date must include the new version of the complaint notice. Additionally, policies submitted to SLTX for processing or audit must include a current version of the complaint notice and may result in errors if the new version is not included. The SLTX Tech Support team is available by phone at (512) 531-1880 or (800) 681-5848 or by email to answer questions and provide additional information.

The new complaint notice is available on the Texas Register website. The SLTX website also has a link to the notice, as well as an example and editable versions of the document.

Agents must ensure that the notice meets the following requirements:

  • The notice must be included with all policies, binders, certificates, or evidence of coverage, and
    • Be on a separate page
    • Be on the first, second, or third page of the set of documents
    • Be in the same format and layout as the document provided
    • Have at least one blank line between each paragraph
    • Have font no smaller than 10 point
  • The following fields must be included:
    • Name of the insurance company (in bold)
    • Title and phone number of the insuring company (in bold)
      • The insuring company may choose to list the agent, agency, or MGA and their phone number instead.
    • Toll-free phone number of the insuring company (in bold)
      • The number is not required to be toll-free for surplus lines insurers.
    • Email address of the insuring company
    • Mailing address of the insuring company
  • A Spanish version of the notice must be included for personal automobile, homeowners, and accident and health policies, binders, certificates, and evidences of coverage.

The following fields are optional to include:

  • Agent, agency, or MGA contact name, address, and phone number
    • If provided, this information must be below the required insuring company paragraph and above the Texas Department of Insurance paragraph.
  • The notice may be on insuring company letterhead
  • A toll-free phone number for surplus lines insurers
  • The URL of the insuring company

FEMA Extends NFIP Renewal Grace Period

As part of its actions to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that it is extending the grace period to renew federal flood insurance policies from 30 to 120 days. The extension applies to National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies that were scheduled to expire between February 13, 2020, and June 15, 2020.

“FEMA understands the sense of urgency related to financial hardships and wants to be proactive,” said David Maurstad, deputy associate administrator of FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. “We hope this extension will give policyholders some peace of mind and allow them extra time to renew their policies to ensure they are covered should a flood loss occur.”

The spring flood season in the United States is now ongoing. Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have predicted widespread flooding this spring, though they do not expect it to be as severe or prolonged as the 2019 flood season.

SMART Release Delayed in Wake of COVID-19

The release of SLTX’s new online filing system, SMART, will be postponed due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The system was originally scheduled for release this month but will be delayed so that agents and brokers can focus on the health and safety of their staff and business.

We understand that adopting a new process for filing surplus lines policies will take time, resources, and development. As such, we will defer the release until this unprecedented period of uncertainty has passed.

Once a new date for the launch has been determined, SLTX will communicate further details about the system. Please contact SLTX with any questions or for additional information.

COVID-19 Guidance: Paper Filing and Stamping Fee Payments

Following a stay-at-home order issued by local officials in the City of Austin, Texas, where SLTX’s office is located, surplus lines agents and brokers who submit policy filings and stamping fees by mail are strongly encouraged to adopt electronic filing and payment methods. The order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, and will continue until April 13, 2020, unless terminated by the Mayor of the City of Austin.

Physical mail sent to SLTX will be collected and processed, but there may be delays in processing due to the city’s new restrictions. Untimely filed policies will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will be calculated based on the date documents were received by the post office.

Agents and brokers who are accustomed to filing policies by mail may file using the SLTX online filing system or secure file sharing software. Information on how to register for the online filing system can be found on the SLTX website. To use a file sharing service, such as Sync.com, please contact the Tech Support team for additional information.

To access stamping fee invoices electronically, register for the online filing system by completing the System Registration form on the SLTX website. If you need access to the system only to pay invoices, ensure the box marked “I intend to use the Online Filing System to only make ACH/online payments” is checked. SLTX has created a how-to guide detailing the online invoice payment process.

Those who already file policies and remit payments electronically may continue to do so. SLTX will accept filings and receive these payments as expected.

While the stay-at-home order is active, SLTX will deliver all batch and monthly reports through secure electronic methods. If agents and brokers choose to pay stamping fees electronically and/or file using the online filing system, the reports will be delivered through the online filing system. Those who do not pay stamping fees or file electronically will receive reports through the secure file sharing service Sync.com.

For additional information or if you need assistance, please contact the SLTX Tech Support team.

SLTX Board, Committee Meetings Postponed

The 2020 SLTX Annual Board Meeting and SLTX Finance and Audit Committee Meeting originally scheduled for March 27, 2020, and March 26, 2020, have been postponed. The meetings will be rescheduled for later this year when they may be held without concern for participants’ health and safety.

A special board meeting will be held in the coming week, but a date and time have not yet been announced. The meeting will be held by teleconference and will have a limited agenda. Additional information about upcoming board meetings can be found on the SLTX website.

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

SLTX Response to COVID-19 Concerns

At SLTX, our employees are our number one asset. Their safety is paramount, and we are taking proactive steps to protect them while also adhering to the societal precautions prescribed to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As such, SLTX has enacted a work-from-home policy for staff members that will continue until deemed appropriate by SLTX management. SLTX has also suspended all business travel throughout this period. Additionally, meetings will no longer be held in person and will be conducted using videoconference or teleconference services.

During this time, we will continue performing all duties and responsibilities as required and expected. Staff members will be available by telephone or email to answer questions and support business operations.

While many surplus lines agents and brokers already use electronic methods to file surplus lines policies and pay stamping fees, we want to also encourage those brokers and agents who have typically completed surplus lines filing and payment processes by mail to use electronic means. Physical mail sent to SLTX will still be retrieved and processed, but there may be brief delays while we work through the logistics of this new process.

As we navigate this unprecedented health concern with the rest of the country, we are committed to maintaining the integrity of the Texas surplus lines market and will continue to assist agents and brokers with surplus lines policy filings during this uncertain time.

Please contact us with any questions by email or phone at (512) 531-1880 or (800) 681-5848.

2019 Annual Late Filing Report Moved Up to March 16

As we continue to receive information from city, state, and federal officials regarding the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), SLTX is taking a proactive approach to the latest health concerns. Out of an abundance of caution, SLTX will generate the 2019 Annual Late Filing Report on Monday, March 16, 2020. The report was previously scheduled to run on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

SLTX must submit the annual late filing report to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) by the first business day in April of each year. The new report date will allow SLTX to be proactive in meeting delivery requirements to TDI in the unlikely event that public health concerns escalate.

As always, SLTX is available to answer questions and provide support to surplus lines agents or brokers. Please contact our Tech Support team by email or phone at (512) 531-1880 or (800) 681-5848.

SLTX Names Greg Brandon as Executive Director

The Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas (SLTX) Board of Directors has appointed Greg Brandon as Executive Director of the organization, effective March 9, 2020. He succeeds Don Meyer, who has been Interim Executive Director of SLTX since October 2019. Meyer stepped in to lead the office temporarily while a nationwide search was conducted to hire a permanent Executive Director, and he will remain on through the transition period.

For the past 18 years, Brandon has worked for Valero Energy Corporation in San Antonio, Texas. Most recently, he served as Director of Property Insurance & Risk Control Engineering since 2007. In this position, he was responsible for management and procurement of global commercial and captive insurance products, directing risk engineering programs, and coordinating annual review and analysis of company claims data. Prior to this role, he was Process Safety, Emergency Response, & Security Manager for Valero Memphis Refinery and Senior Risk Control Engineer for Valero in San Antonio.

Brandon has been involved with the San Antonio Chapter of the Risk Insurance Management Society (RIMS) for several years and has served as Treasurer (2009), Secretary (2010), Vice President (2011), President (2012), and Director (2013-2016) of the organization. He was a member of the 2010 Chamber of Commerce delegation that successfully achieved nomination to host the 2018 national RIMS conference in San Antonio. Additionally, he is a past member of the National Safety Council, American Society of Safety Engineers, and National Fire Protection Association. He was also Chair of the University United Methodist Church Administrative Board from 2013-2017.

Brandon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Protection & Safety Engineering Technology from Oklahoma State University.

“After a very thorough search, the Board of Directors welcomes Greg Brandon as the new Executive Director,” said Lorrie Cheshier, Chair of the SLTX Board. “Our decision was made based on Greg’s extensive experience and professional achievements. We believe Greg is the right leader for SLTX, and we recognize he has demonstrated his ability to successfully lead policy initiatives and integrate a broad range of communication strategies and technologies from the onset.”

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