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Insurance ill winds blow for local homeowners

The last hurricane to hit Corpus Christi was Celia on August 3, 1970. Eleven people were killed.

Windstorm insurance rates are set to increase as of Jan. 1, 2018, unless a bill recently filed by State Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) passes through the last week of the 85th Texas Legislature’s special session.

The increase, which was approved by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association’s board of directors Aug. 1, came as a bit of a surprise. In an interview with Corpus Christi Business News in late July, Hunter said he had no plans to file any bills. He also said he did not expect windstorm insurance to be an issue.

“My goal is to make sure that the Coastal Bend is defended and protected,” Hunter said of the special session. “The good thing is that, this time, we don’t have to worry about windstorm.”

During the regular session of the 85th Legislature earlier this year, Hunter said he and fellow Coastal Bend representatives were able to quash any proposed hikes in windstorm insurance rates. The issue was not on the special session agenda. It is now.

House Bill 386 caps windstorm rate hikes at 1 percent a year. The current increase just approved by the TWIA board is 5 percent.

Hunter also wants to look at limiting the capacity of the board to adjust insurance rates. TWIA rates affect 40 counties along the Gulf Coast, including Nueces County.

TWIA raised the rates to stay even in the event of a huge storm or hurricane, according to statements made at the Aug. 1 meeting.

"We have been fortunate over the last 10 years not to have hurricanes,” said TWIA chief financial officer Jerry Fadden. “But the expected loss from our hurricanes over the course of time is a reality that is part of our business. We’re providing for the inevitable but unpredictable expense for hurricanes.”

Hunter said the increased rates are unnecessary and could hamper economic growth in the area.

The bill is co-authored by Reps. J.M. Lozano (R-Portland), Abel Herrero (D- Corpus Christi) and Geanie W. Morrison (R-Victoria). Morrison serves on the House Insurance Committee, where the bill was sent Aug. 8. The special session is set to end Aug. 16.

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