Yesterday, the Texas Public Policy Foundation released its Sunset Report on the Texas Department of Insurance, which calls for less regulation on the homeowners’ insurance market.

We believe that consumers are in a better position than state regulators to determine what insurance they want to buy and how much they want to pay for it. The price of a cell phone and a year’s service plan today can come close to the cost of a homeowners’ insurance policy, and the contract is certainly no less complex. Yet no one is calling for the Texas Public Utility Commission to regulate cell phone rates and plans – at least, not yet.

But it wouldn’t surprise us if they did, because “consumer advocates” always seem to think that the government can make better decisions for consumers than consumers can make for themselves. That is why they are fighting to keep the Office of Public Insurance Counsel, which serves as a “consumer representative” in the regulatory process.

Our approach is that rather than have a consumer advocate in a convoluted regulatory process, we ought to instead have a consumer friendly regulatory process. Essentially, the regulatory process ought to be designed to let consumers choose their own rates and coverage, with TDI on the lookout in case of fraud or insolvency.

We’ll see who wins this battle – consumers or their self-proclaimed advocates – during the 2009 legislative session.

– Bill Peacock