The Texas Legislature is in full swing, and legislation involving the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association is no exception. Our coastal legislative delegation is working hard to support us and the Coastal Windstorm Insurance Coalition is there supporting them. We’re working to ensure good windstorm legislation passes to prevent a 10 percent rate increase on coastal policyholders.
Recall that Gov. Greg Abbott helped us by postponing a proposed 10 percent rate increase after Hurricane Harvey, but if nothing gets accomplished during this legislative session there’s a good probability that increase will happen this summer.
On April 9, the House Insurance committee heard many bills relating to the windstorm association. Our hats are off to Reps. Mayes Middleton, Greg Bonnen, Todd Hunter and Abel Herrero for authoring and presenting pro-coast pieces of legislation in the hearing. Those proposals included lowering the caps on rate increases, requiring insurers to purchase reinsurance, adding more coastal members to the association board, and expanding protections to reduce costs in the case of windstorm losses.
The coalition was there to support and testify in favor of these bills, and is working to pass legislation that will benefit coastal Texans. I’d like to personally thank Terrilyn Tarlton-Shannon, Jim Rich, and Pat Avery, president of the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, for going to Austin with me to support coastal interests at the hearing.
The coalition is also working with our friends Sen. Larry Taylor and Bonnen on legislation that increases the association’s replacement cost recovery eligibility by moving that determination to the time of policy renewal, as well as making it easier to approve increasing the amounts windstorm policies can cover.
Those bills are on the move — having unanimously advanced out of the House Insurance Committee and are on their way to the Senate, where Taylor has already had the bills heard in committee and is ready to move them through the Senate. The coalition has testified in favor of both bills, and is helping to shepherd them through the legislative process.
Also of importance is a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association Sunset bill. Sunset is the legislative process that makes changes to how agencies operate. The coalition has worked hand-in-hand with the Sunset committee, staff, and bill authors to craft a bill that will improve customer service processes for policy renewals and premium payments, provide customers increased clarity in the claims process, provide additional public transparency in rate filings and include more opportunity for public input.
The coalition has already helped move this bill out of the Senate and into the House where we will continue to work to ensure that it remains a pro-consumer bill that allows for coastal input in its decision-making processes going forward.
The windstorm association is always a contested issue in the Texas Legislature — and this session is no exception; with both the Sunset bill and a potential looming 10 percent rate increase for policyholders.
The coalition is working hard to make sure coastal interests are well-represented on this complex and important topic. Thank you for your support and making sure the Texas Legislature hears from and listens to the coast.