Harvey - Insurance

Frances Maloney searches through debris outside of her daughter-in-law’s flood-damaged house in Dickinson on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.

For Galveston County homeowners, purchasing windstorm insurance provides a safety net against potential damage sustained to their property during hurricane season.

Consumers must have windstorm insurance to cover losses that aren’t covered by some homeowner policies along the coast, such as damage from hurricanes and tornadoes.

Many mortgage providers also may require windstorm insurance as a condition in issuing a home loan, Texas Windstorm Insurance Association spokeswoman Jennifer Armstrong said.

“It is important for property owners to have windstorm insurance coverage and, in some cases, flood insurance in addition to their homeowners or commercial insurance policy so that their property is fully protected if a catastrophic hurricane hits the Texas coast,” Armstrong said.

“Many insurers exclude windstorm and hail coverage in their homeowners and commercial policies in TWIA’s designated coverage area on the Texas coast.”

The association provides windstorm insurance for property owners in the Texas coastal counties who are unable to obtain this coverage in the private market. It does not provide coverage for flood damage, but flood insurance may be required to be eligible for a wind policy.

As of March 31, the association had 57,173 insurance policies in Galveston County and a total of 187,189 policies in the coastal counties of Texas. These figures do not include windstorm insurance provided by the private market.

There are 28,608 private market windstorm policies in Galveston County, and 185,218 in coastal counties, Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins said.

“TWIA cannot offer a windstorm policy once a storm appears in the Gulf of Mexico, so we encourage coastal residents to review their insurance coverage needs before hurricane season starts,” Armstrong said. “If changes to your insurance coverage are needed, plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute.”

As coastal residents prepare for hurricane season, the association encourages its policyholders to consider the following steps.

First, pre-register in the claims center at www.TWIA.org. This will save policyholders time after a storm if they need to file a claim.

By using the claims center, policyholders can report new claims directly to the association 24 hours a day, communicate directly with its claims staff, check the status of existing claims, and view and submit claims documents and images.

Second, make sure policies are paid and in effect and have the right level of coverage for the property. Changes to policies can be made through an insurance agent, if needed. Payments also can be submitted through an agent for policy renewals, and recent legislative changes now allow payments to be mailed directly to the association to renew policies. 

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