No Texas Windstorm Insurance Association rate hike. The association met again (“TWIA board defers windstorm insurance rate increases.” The Daily News, Dec. 10) to consider a rate hike for coastal policyholders. This time, a proposal for a 5 percent increase was unanimously voted down by the board.
The combined efforts of the Coastal Windstorm Insurance Coalition along with our partners, and members of the Texas Legislature were synched perfectly to create the perfect storm of pressure on the association, and directly prevented them from raising rates.
State Rep. Mayes Middleton, working closely with the coalition’s actuary Steve Alexander and lobbyist Ryan Brannan, crafted a strong letter and actuarial analysis that raised doubts about whether a rate increase was justified and whether the association was following the new law, HB 1900, that the coalition helped pass last session. I wrote a handwritten letter that Brannan personally delivered to the association board chairman outlining five reasons why the association wasn’t justified in voting to raise rates.
The day of the association’s board meeting, Sen. Larry Taylor sent an official letter to the attorney general requesting an immediate injunction against the association from taking any further action on rates until the attorney general’s office could render a legal opinion on whether the association is compliant with HB1900 and SB615.
The evening before the association’s board meeting, House Insurance Chairman Eddie Lucio sent out a notice calling for a House Insurance committee hearing on the association in Rockport on Jan. 15.
In the release, Lucio stated “I hope that the TWIA Board of Directors considers the will of the legislature during their Board meeting tomorrow and that they forgo a rate increase.” The release essentially put the association on notice that they would have to testify in a legislative hearing in January if they raised rates at the board meeting.
The morning of the hearing generated news as well. An article was written that purported to have leaked emails from the chair of the association’s actuarial committee, as well as to a board member. Both emails make it appear that the association was working behind the scenes to try to raise rates, even while having public discussions to the contrary.
Both emails are damaging on their own, but coupled with the fact that Texas Watch and others have now filed open records requests with the association — and the association hasn’t turned over any emails as of yet — could mean there’s more damaging content soon to be released.
These actions, combined with literally hundreds of ratepayers sending in letters and being present to express their frustration with the association, including at least six members of the legislature, helped stymie association action.
The association board had the votes to raise rates. There are currently two vacancies on the board, one coastal member representative and one public member representative. To prevent an increase against those odds is almost impossible. I’m proud of the coalition’s efforts, both in public and behind the scenes, to help steer another positive result. Working hand in hand, the coastal delegation has now prevented the association from raising rates, going back to 2017.