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TWIA Committee Meets Again to Discuss Windstorm Rates

Storm clouds continue to gather around a possible windstorm insurance rate hike for Texas Gulf Coast residents. After four weeks of reviewing a rate adequacy report, a newly appointed TWIA Actuarial and Underwriting Committee will meet for the second time at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 19, at TWIA’s Austin office, 5700 S. MoPac, Building A.

Although no action can be taken to raise rates at the meeting, the committee’s main agenda item is to review the information and make a recommendation to the TWIA board on whether or not a rate increase is called for at this time. The same information was first presented to the TWIA board at a meeting in Galveston in August.

The full board will meet again December 10 in Corpus Christi. Local officials fully expect the board to again consider a rate increase at that meeting. In response, they are gearing up to keep that from happening.

“There is no basis for a rate increase at this time,” said State Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi). “The TWIA board already filed a zero percent rate increase for 2020 in August. They need to keep their promise of a zero rate increase. The information has not changed since they voted in August.”

Hunter urged coastal residents to send comments against a rate increase via email by a noon Friday, November 15, deadline. Comments submitted before that deadline will be considered by the committee at its November 19 meeting.

When the TWIA board met in Galveston in August, it voted to send a zero percent increase to the Texas Department of Insurance for 2020. A large group of concerned coastal resident attended the meeting to speak against an increase. After voting not to raise rates, protestors left. The board returned from a short break and voted to appoint a new actuarial committee to further study a possible rate hike.

That committee held its first meeting to consider the rate adequacy analysis on October 17. After a motion to recommend a 10 percent increase to the board failed 4-3, the committee decided to hold a second meeting to give them time to further consider the information.

United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce CEO John LaRue called the outcome of the first committee meeting successful.

“However, our challenges are not over,” he said. “Coastal Bend residents should prepare themselves for another fight about a possible rate increase at the next TWIA Board of Directors Meeting December 10 at the Omni Hotel in Corpus Christi.”

According to the rate adequacy analysis, residential windstorm insurance rates are 41 percent inadequate. Commercial rates are 50.1 percent inadequate. TWIA is only allowed by law to raise rates by 10 percent at a time.

According to Hunter, these additional meetings should not even be happening.

“What bothers me is why we keeping having to do this,” he said. “Why do they keep putting the public on this roller coaster? They need to keep their promise. They voted zero percent for 2020, and coastal businesses and residents should be able to rely on that vote.”

Hunter also expressed concern that the TWIA staff has not yet responded to Open Records requests filed weeks ago for information the public should have in hand before the November 19 meeting.

“To date, the documents and records still have not been produced,” Hunter said. “The ‘W’ in TWIA should stand for ‘windstorm fairness,’ not for ‘welching on a commitment.’”

Once the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, the TWIA board will no longer be able to affect rates for 2020. The board can only approve a rate hike for the upcoming year, not the current year, Hunter said.

When 2021 rolls around and a new legislative session begins, Hunter plans to be ready with a bill to form a Texas catastrophic insurance plan that will put insurance for all natural disasters under one statewide policy. Until then, he plans to continue to fight any future rate increases for windstorm insurance rates that are only paid by coastal residents.

“I plan to continue watching, monitoring, and standing up for all our area in the 14 coastal counties,” Hunter said. “If I have to be the windstorm Energizer rabbit, I will fight for fairness on the coast.”

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