How Does Texas Insurance Regulation Spending Measure Up Nationwide?

Elizabeth Renter
By Elizabeth Renter 

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The Texas Department of Insurance budget in 2015 was $116 million, the third-largest insurance department budget in the U.S., according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That seems like a lot of money at first glance, but a new analysis looks beyond the total dollar amount to provide a different perspective on resources available to the departments.

These insurance departments are responsible for regulating the rates for auto, health, homeowners and life insurance. The departments also license agents and companies, resolve consumer questions and complaints, enforce insurance laws and investigate fraud allegations. The ability to do all of these things depends on money, staff and legislative support.

According to the data analysis by NerdWallet, the Texas department’s 2015 budget represented 0.10% of total state expenditures, higher than the national average among states of 0.07%. Texas spent $4.22 per resident to regulate insurance, just over the U.S. average of $4.20.

And the department kept 5.24% of its total revenue — the money brought in through fees, taxes and penalties paid by insurers and agents — compared with an average of 5.98% nationally. The analysis was based on data submitted by states to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Texas insurance department spokesperson Jerry Hagins declined to comment on the specifics of the agency’s financial resources.

“We feel like we do a good job with the resources we have,” he said.

The report also looked at how many staff members were dedicated to consumer services. These are the people answering phones and resolving complaints against insurers. In Texas, 17.11% of insurance department staff worked in consumer affairs, more than the national average of 12.82%.