I attended the Texas Windstorm Association meeting held recently in Galveston.

Three Texas House members representing Galveston, Corpus Christi and Houston were present, and all testified against the proposed 5 percent rate increase.

Many others were present to testify against, including many local insurance agents who sided with their customers instead of the insurance companies who employ them.

One person representing the insurance industry spoke for the 5 percent rate increase. He also said his industry had input in HB 1900 and supported some of its language.

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association is a state agency created by the Texas legislature to provide windstorm insurance protection for homeowners and businesses on the Texas Gulf Coast. It was made necessary several years ago when the insurance industries ceased to provide this type of coverage to Gulf Coast residents.

The original legislation was sponsored and passed by a Galveston member serving in a Democratic legislature. It was a win for homeowners and business. The insurance industry hated it and has consistently supported premium rate increases.

Make no mistake about it, the Texas insurance industry is one of the most politically powerful entities in the state. It employs an army of lobbyists for every legislative session and donates millions of dollars to legislative and other statewide campaigns.

Last year, the association’s board of directors approved a 10 percent increase in windstorm insurance rates. This followed board supported rate increases in seven of the last eight years. Responding from widespread objections from Gulf Coast residents recovering from Hurricane Harvey, the governor stopped the 10 percent proposed increase.

While in the legislature, I served on the House Insurance Committee. The purpose was to combat insurance industry meddling with the windstorm association.

The recent session of the Legislature passed HB 1900. Some called it pro consumer. I have concerns.

Here are those concerns:

1. One of the authors and sponsors of HB 1900 has received in excess of $500,000 in insurance political contributions.

2. The bill gives added rule-making authority to the Texas Windstorm Association commissioner. Not good for rate payers trying to recover from hurricane damages.

3. The new law creates a legislative board to study the funding structure of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.

This proposed funding study raises serious alarms. First, the Legislature is where the insurance industry exercises superior influence because of its lobbying and financial contributions. Also, the Gulf Coast windstorm rate payers only influence and elect a small percentage of the total membership of the Texas House and Senate.

If Gulf Coast homeowners and business expect to maintain their current standard of living, they must be able to purchase affordable windstorm insurance.

Policyholders can best protect their interests through political action. They need to focus on the quality of state legislators and state officials they elect and to have a say in who’s appointed to the association’s board of directors.

Lloyd Criss lives in La Marque.

Locations

(2) comments

Bailey Jones

I've read a few of these windstorm insurance letters over the past few months. They seem to be about politics. Shouldn't the rates for windstorm insurance be based on projected losses, not political shenanigans? What good is "affordable" windstorm insurance if it can't afford to pay for the damage from the next inevitable Cat 5 hurricane?

Jack Cross

Lloyd is correct, Windstorm is not the only thing that the Texas Insurance Lobbyies against. They are a huge lobby against full disclosure of property sales.

Basically your appraisals are based on sales of similar properties with your property adjusted to make it look like the sold properties. The insurance industry don't want these sales know so the Appraisal districts has to hun down sales. Doesn't common sense tell you that the more sale information that the CAD has would make their information and your appraisal more accurate. For example if your appraisal is adjusted based on say 2 sales in your neighborhood and one sale is off the mark, your property would be unfairly adjusted. Real Estate people benefit form higher appraisals because it increases their sale commission. Texas is one of only five states that is non disclosure.

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