It’s no secret that it costs a lot to live on the coast, especially once you add up your taxes, homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, and windstorm insurance. And in 2012, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) proceeded forward with several proposals to fund the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), the provider of last resort for windstorm insurance on our coast. It was then that TWIA adopted a 5% increase on all residential and commercial windstorm insurance policies to policyholders in the 14 counties (Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, and Willacy) comprising the Texas Coast. This was the third rate increase since 2009. But the long fight is finally over.
Back in May, State Rep. Hunter announced that Senate Bill 900 has passed the Texas House of Representatives, a major victory.
And now after years of the unknown, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has just signed into law the Windstorm Insurance Reform Bill. The bill will spread the cost of storm-related increases to the rest of Texas instead of having the lion’s share being paid by the 14 coastal counties.
Last year, on March 5, over 400 residents came to a public hearing the city held at Texas A&M for our residents to voice their opposition to the proposed “tax,” as State Representative Todd Hunter referred to it. He pointed out that the TWIA website specifically states that they do not discriminate against geographical locations, which is exactly what this surcharge would have done. Rep. Hunter suggested doing an economic analysis on the minority groups affected. Perhaps his suggestion was heard.
Hunter believes the measure will benefit property owners along the Texas coast should a hurricane strike. For instance, when hail or tornadoes pummel other parts of Texas, funding from our coastal counties goes toward aid. But what if our coast gets hit with a hurricane? It has been on us and us alone to pay for the damages. This has made many of our residents scratch their heads. But this bill creates a new funding structure to provide fair and better insurance rates throughout the 14 coastal counties in Texas. It also changes the makeup of the Texas Insurance Board.
Over the years, there has been a lot of support from our local power forces. Mayor Nelda Martinez explained this surcharge would have a burdensome affect on the momentum of our community, and that an increase in insurance over the past 14 years will economically sink these 14 counties. She wrapped it up by saying “Mother nature doesn’t discriminate…”
JJ Johnson with TPCO American noted that with all the new big plants coming to Corpus (TPCO, Cheniere Energy, M&G Chemicals, Schlitterbahn…) there will be thousands of workers, too. We need to ensure that our new laborers on blue-collar salaries can afford to live here.
State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa commented on the misconception that all coastal residents are rich. In reality, we’re just like the rest of working America, where many of us can’t afford to pay much more.
At the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors luncheon at the Corpus Christi Town Club on March 13 2014, Representative Hunter explained that they will probably pass the rule, but they may be hesitant to enforce it. He promises to “fight them forever.”
Here’s to hoping he doesn’t have to!