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Local Rep Urges Protest of TWIA Rate Hike

Pages from the Rate Adequacy Analysis released to the public July 22 by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency. The information is expected to be used at a TWIA board meeting August 6 to back up a possible insurance rate increase. Illustration by Roland Chiapoco

An increase in windstorm insurance rates is once again on the horizon when the Texas Wind Storm Association holds its annual meeting August 6. However, a rate hike is not specifically listed on the agenda. Instead, the board will see a presentation of a Rate Adequacy Analysis, which was released July 22. That analysis states TWIA’s current rates are inadequate by 41.7 percent for residential coverage and 50 percent for commercial.

From that, any member can make a motion to increase rates, said a TWIA spokesperson in a phone interview. Motions could even be for two different rates: one for residential and one for commercial.

“We’ve got both residential and commercial that we offer, so that is two different kinds,” the spokesperson said. “Historically, in recent years, TWIA has made rate adjustments in the same amounts, but this year, it could be different amounts.”

“Enough is enough,” State Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) told Corpus Christi Business News.

Hunter is urging Coastal Bend residents to attend the August meeting, which will begin at 9AM at the Treemont House Hotel, 2300 Ship’s Mechanic Row St. in Galveston.

“My goal is to stop any rate hike any way, shape, or form,” Hunter said. “Why are they raising rates when we’ve just passed laws to come up with a better system? Raising the rates now contradicts the whole role and goal of the laws just passed.”

One of the 70 new legislative provisions that came out of the last legislation session is posting the rate adequacy analysis. As part of Senate Bill 615, which made TWIA subject to review by the Sunset Commission, the new transparency rules do not take effect until September 1.

“TWIA chose to make this information available early prior to the Board’s August meeting,” reads a media release sent with the Rate Adequacy Presentation on July 22.

Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) was not impressed.

“TWIA is hiding the ball,” he told Corpus Christi Business News. “They won’t tell us what percent they want to go up. It’s not fair to surprise ratepayers like that at the meeting.”

TWIA can propose a rate hike of up to 10 percent by law. Any rate hike of 5 percent or less is automatically approved. Anything higher than 5 percent and up to 10 percent must be approved by the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner. New rates would go into effect January 1.

According to the media release, the inadequate rate percentages are higher this year than last year’s analysis, which led to a 10 percent rate hike. That increase was then suspended by Governor Greg Abbott using executive powers granted during hurricane emergencies.

The agency withdrew the rate increase request just as the Texas Legislature approved — twice — an 18-month moratorium on any further rate increases. Middleton voted in favor of that bill along with an overwhelming majority in the House.

“People cannot afford to live on the Gulf Coast and pay the 71 percent increase that has happened over the last 11 years,” he said. “You can’t have a mortgage without windstorm insurance, and for a lot of homeowners, they can’t afford it.”

Both Hunter and Middleton expect a large audience of ratepayers at the August 6 meeting, where they expect to hear for the first time the amount of a newly proposed rate increase.

“I am not pleased that the board will not make its proposed increase publicly available in advance of the meeting,” Middleton said.

Hunter was also displeased that the public was given so little time to respond.

“They waited until the 11th hour to release their analysis,” Hunter said. “It doesn’t seem fair. After the legislative process, where their rate hike was shut down and the governor shut them down, I wish they would be more taxpayer-, ratepayer-friendly.”

Hunter urged concerned ratepayers to either email comments to TWIA or attend the meeting. Comments should be emailed to communicationsmail@twia.org before noon July 31.

“I’m asking any one of the groups going to the meeting to challenge this actuarial analysis,” Hunter said. “I’ve never, in all these years, seen TWIA pay for an analysis that did not tell them to raise rates.”

Middleton said a group may do that, just as it did at last year’s meeting.

“Last year, we did our own analysis that said a rate increase was not necessary,” Middleton said. “We disputed TWIA’s numbers, and they ultimately rescinded a 10 percent rate increase. We are looking at their new numbers. I’m working with Galveston stakeholders to look at this new report. We will definitely have a response.”



TWIA ANNUAL MEETING

9AM TUESDAY, AUGUST 6

Treemont House Hotel

2300 Ship’s Mechanic Row St.

Galveston

communicationsmail@twia.org

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