Almost 2,700 policy holders have filed claims with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association because of Hurricane Nicholas, officials said Thursday.
About 43 percent of the claims are from policyholders in Galveston County, said Aaron Taylor, a spokesman for the association.
The association expects more claims to be filed in coming days as more power is restored across areas of Texas damaged by the storm, said Jennifer Armstrong, vice president of the windstorm association.
“This was a significant storm, with impact spread across multiple counties and especially for Galveston County,” Armstrong said. “In terms of the scale of claims, it may be similar to Hurricane Laura, which hit near the Texas-Louisiana border last year.”
Laura was a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Louisiana in August 2020 but still caused about $36.9 million in direct damages to Texas, according to an association report from last year.
The association is the insurer of last resort for coastal Texans and holds more than 60,000 windstorm insurance policies in Galveston County.
Nicholas’ strong winds caused significant damage to roofs, signs and fences around the county, and much of that damage can be covered by windstorm association policies.
People with policies through the association should make temporary and minor repairs to prevent further damage as soon as possible and keep records and receipts of the costs of those repairs, Taylor said.
Permanent repairs to Nicholas-caused damage should wait until policyholders have been in contact with the association, however, he said.
The association’s policies don’t cover damage caused by storm surge or flooding from rain, Taylor said. They do, in some cases, cover wind-driven rain damage.
The association also warned people against trusting out-of-state contractors who show up unexpectedly offering help.
One thing that’s not a worry after Nicholas is paying for the costs of its damage. The storm wasn’t nearly strong enough to put the association in financial straits, Taylor said.
For years, the windstorm association has warned lawmakers it’s underfunded to cover all of its policies. Lawmakers, meanwhile, have prevented the association from raising its rates and called on the association to make other reforms.
Underfunding wouldn’t affect the association’s ability to pay out claims from Nicholas, however, Taylor said.
“Policyholders can rest assured that TWIA has never been unable to pay claims since its inception in 1971,” Taylor said. “For this year’s hurricane season, TWIA is funded for up to $4.03 billion.”
As a comparison, claims from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 were estimated to be $1.7 billion, Taylor said.