The Travelers Institute Hosts Panel at the Texas Regulatory Roundup

May 10, 2010

Panel Addresses Availability and Affordability of Coastal Homeowners Insurance

AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), today hosted a panel discussion at the Regulatory Roundup, an annual conference of insurance industry professionals and regulators held in Austin, Texas. The conference focused on topics of importance to the insurance industry, such as federal regulation and emerging legislative and regulatory trends. The Travelers Institute panel, “Improving Availability and Affordability of Coastal Wind Storm Insurance,” presented strategies and solutions to protect and insure the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

“The Travelers Institute is committed to participating in public dialogue with policymakers to contribute to solutions on matters of importance to our customers, our agents and brokers, and the communities we serve,” said Joan Woodward, Travelers Executive Vice President of Public Policy and head of The Travelers Institute. “The availability and affordability of wind storm insurance is a challenge for many coastal residents, and it is time for the public and private sectors to work together to create effective, sustainable solutions to this crisis.”

Moderated by Ms. Woodward, The Travelers Institute panel included:

  • Eleanor Kitzman, Former Director of Insurance, South Carolina;
  • Debra Ballen, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS);
  • Eric Nelson, Vice President, Personal Lines and Risk Management, Travelers.

Participants addressed the need for maintenance of a strong private insurance market, greater focus on loss mitigation and risk management, improved land use planning and stronger and enforced building codes.

Ms. Kitzman shared the challenges faced by South Carolina and those she faced as a state regulator working to secure access to affordable coastal property insurance for the state’s residents. She provided insight into why other solutions were rejected in favor of a market-based approach. “Market-based regulatory reforms are crucial to creating a stable and predictable insurance market that will allow the average homeowner to be adequately insured at an affordable price,” said Kitzman.

Ms. Ballen addressed efforts by IBHS to enhance building codes and strengthen their enforcement across the country. She also discussed the organization’s multi-peril research center in Chester County, S.C., which is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2010. The facility will be able to simulate Category 3 hurricane winds to test the strength of residential structures. The research done in this test facility should help the public, federal, state and local policymakers, insurers, builders and building product manufacturers better understand the impact of hurricane force winds. “When homes are built or retrofitted to make them more durable, we are protecting property, saving lives and helping to reduce costs to consumers and insurers,” said Ballen.

Mr. Nelson presented the Travelers Coastal Wind Zone Plan, a comprehensive, private market approach to improve the affordability and availability of coastal wind storm insurance for homeowners. The Travelers proposal includes four key principles:

  • A stable and consistent regulatory environment, with a uniform set of rules applied to named wind storm coverage for coastal zones from Texas to Maine;
  • Transparency in calculating insurance premiums;
  • Federal reinsurance mechanism for extreme events; and
  • Stronger buildings through federal guidelines for appropriate building codes and land use planning.

“Travelers understands that a viable insurance market is a critical component of the economic stability of communities along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts,” said Nelson. “We believe that if taken together the principles of Travelers Coastal Wind Zone Plan can contribute to a sustainable, private insurance market for coastal communities.”

To learn more about The Travelers Institute or the Travelers Coastal Wind Zone Plan, visit

About The Travelers Institute

The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), engages in discussion and analysis of public policy topics of importance to the insurance marketplace and the financial services industry. The Travelers Institute draws upon the industry expertise of Travelers’ senior management and the technical expertise of many of Travelers’ underwriters, risk managers and other experts to provide information and analysis to public policy makers and regulators. Travelers is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. For more information, visit

Source: The Travelers Institute


The Travelers Companies, Inc.

Jennifer Wislocki, 860-277-7458

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Erin Haberman, 860-277-3617

Cell: 860-305-9130