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TWIA board votes to increase rates 5% despite protests

Hurricane Hanna blew through the Gulf Coast in 2020. Although not as serious as Harvey in 2017, it made an impact on the number of claims filed with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association in recent years. Courtesy image

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association sends 5 percent rate increase request to Department of Insurance for approval

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association is sending a request for a 5 percent rate increase to the Texas Department of Insurance. The decision was made by the TWIA board of directors at its Aug. 3 quarterly meeting after hearing protests from Coastal Bend residents and 22 state representatives and senators. Numerous resolutions from Coastal Bend governments and organizations were also approved and sent to the board protesting the increase, including from the city of Corpus Christi, the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, and Nueces County commissioners.

The new rates are expected to go into effect for policies issued or renewed starting Jan. 1, 2022.

The nine-member board voted 5-3 in favor of the increase. One member was absent.

Laws passed in the 87th regular session of the Texas Legislature, which ended in May, state that TWIA must have a two-thirds majority to pass a rate increase. However, that law does not go into effect until Sept. 1.

The TWIA board heard public comments from stakeholders, including elected officials and other coastal community members at the virtual meeting.

“The five votes for the hike either ignored or did not consider any of the legislative or public input,” said state Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi).

According to Hunter, TWIA board member Georgia R. Neblett made a motion for no increase in rates, which failed with a 5-3 vote against it.

TWIA’s Actuarial & Underwriting Committee recommended the rate increase to the board. According to a 2021 Rate Adequacy Analysis, TWIA’s current rates are inadequate by 39 percent for residential coverage and 46 percent for commercial coverage.

“We will never give up,” Hunter told Corpus Christi Business News after the meeting. “We’ve been in this position before, and we will always fight it.”

In January, the Texas Department of Insurance rejected a previous 5 percent rate hike request. Hunter said the next step is to take the matter to the governor, and that legislative hearings are likely.

“We’re going to shine the light on what's going on,” he said. “TWIA is grabbing money instead of helping people.”

Hunter said legislators against the hike are putting together a communication plan to fight approval of the increase.

“Residents may be able to get involved through a hearing or a meeting, but there will be opportunities to object,” he said.

Hunter called the TWIA vote “a scream out loud that the sky is falling to justify a rate increase.”

State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) proposed legislation to move the TWIA headquarters, now located in Austin, to the Coastal Bend.

“If their role is to take care of counties on the coast, they need to move here to have the eyes and ears of the coast,” Hunter said.

He also indicated that virtual meetings make it easier for the board to vote against the people because they are not physically present.

“The bottom line is that it is unfair and TWIA ignored the people and the Legislature,” Hunter said.

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