As general manager of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, I’m pleased to share the transformation that has taken place at TWIA over the last several years. Under the leadership of our board of directors and a new management team, we have established a solid foundation for continuous improvement, creating a culture of transparency and accountability, with the goal of being respected and trusted by our policyholders and other stakeholders.
Our mission is simple: to efficiently provide essential property insurance products and services for eligible Texas policyholders when no one else will. But beyond just providing insurance, we care about our policyholders, agents and the communities they represent. Since changes began in 2011, we have made great strides in transforming the organization, including strengthening our catastrophe response plan and increasing our total funding.
Part of our effort to be prepared is to ensure we have the proper funding to pay claims. The projected funding for 2015 totals $4.9 billion. To put this in perspective, $4.9 billion is enough to cover a 1 in 100-year hurricane season or a series of storms with a 1 percent or less chance of occurring.
Also as part of our efforts, TWIA employees have worked diligently to ensure that we are prepared to swiftly respond when our policyholders need us most. Our catastrophe response plan includes commitments for more than 6,000 trained and licensed adjusters from 25 Texas-based adjusting firms. We also are coordinating with city and other local emergency management officials to ensure a seamless, cooperative partnership in the event a hurricane strikes the Texas coast.
As the 2015 hurricane season approaches, I’d like to encourage you now to review the preparedness checklist and take action before June 1 to prepare and protect your family and your property. Taking precautions now will help prevent or reduce losses from future hurricanes.
Secure your property
Take inventory of your property annually and photograph or video your belongings. Protect your home by keeping up with general maintenance. Keeping your roof in good condition and your foundation sound can go a long way in preventing wind and water damage. And check with your insurance agent about making simple structural upgrades that may lessen damage to your home in the event of a hurricane. Be sure to comply with local building codes.
Verify your insurance coverage
Meet with your agent annually, before hurricane season, to review your insurance coverages. Make sure you have both windstorm and flood coverage and that you understand what is covered and what is not. Insure your property for what it would cost to rebuild, not current market value. Talk to your agent about the difference. Finally, plan ahead for any changes that may be needed to your insurance coverage; you may not be able to make changes once a hurricane is in the Gulf.
Filing a claim with TWIA
If your home is damaged during a hurricane and you need to file a claim, please have your policy information available. For fastest service, you may contact our 24-hour call center at 1-800-788-8247 or contact your agent. You also may file a claim on TWIA.org. Be sure to save your policy number in your smartphone in the event you have to evacuate, you can file a claim on your smartphone.
Once you’ve reported your claim, a representative will contact you as soon as possible. If necessary, you should make any temporary or minor repairs to protect your property from further damage. Remember to take photos of the damage, keep receipts and records of payment for any temporary repairs. Do not begin making permanent repairs until TWIA has contacted you and inspected your property.
For more information on TWIA or hurricane preparedness, please visit our website at TWIA.org.
John Polak is general manager of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.