A rally against a potential massive hike in Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) insurance rates was held at the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center Monday, July 29. The event, organized by the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, featured Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Rep. Todd Hunter, Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales and Corpus Christi Councilman Greg Smith.
The main focus of Monday’s rally was to encourage everyone, especially coastal residents, to email their opposition to any TWIA rate increase. Individuals are encouraged to email CommunicationsMail@TWIA.org by today’s (Wednesday) deadline with the message “No rate hike.”
Port of Corpus Christi Executive Director John LaRue opened the rally saying the TWIA board sent out an actuarial study last week and it showed TWIA is underfunded by 41 percent and 50 percent for residential and commercial liability, respectively.
“We’re here to tell them we’re not going to take it,” said LaRue.
Sen. Hinojosa, who represents an area in the Valley, said, “The TWIA board doesn’t have a rate hike it doesn’t like.”
He noted TWIA isn’t funding claims the way it is spelled out by law, with premiums used first, then spreading the cost among all policy holders in the state, and finally, through reinsurance.
It’s important that we speak out,” said Hinojosa. “We need to get their attention before they meet in August.”
Judge Canales said everybody must understand the Coastal Bend is still in recovery mode.
“I can’t believe the lack of empathy from fellow Texans,” she said. “This (huge possible rate hike in 2020) has the real potential of damaging the business sector … those who are looking to make large corporate investments in the area.”
She said leadership is reflected in one’s character, and if TWIA moves forward with attempts to increase windstorm insurance rates it is not listening and is “going in the opposite direction.”
Canales said there must be a unified voice, especially on this issue.
“We say ‘absolutely no’ to any TWIA rate hike,” she said.
“This is only one issue. We have so many and we have to stay together.”
In addition to asking individuals to email TWIA, Canales encouraged government entitles to approve resolutions opposing all rate hikes.
Smith said TWIA’s appetite is insatiable, always trying to increase rates 20, 30, and 40 percent.
He noted a study that showed for every $1 paid in TWIA premiums, ratepayers receive only 41 cents back.
“We are on the verge of great economic growth, but can lose it (because of increases) in insurance premiums,” said Smith.
“It took the governor and state representatives to keep (TWIA at bay) this year,” said Smith. “They meet next Tuesday (in Galveston) to try it again.”
Rep. Hunter said elected officials stopped the rate hike proposal in 2019, but soon after this year’s session in Austin closed, TWIA was at it again.
“The coastal delegation got together and (this year’s) rate hike was stopped,” said Hunter.
He noted TWIA waited until the legislative session ended, and then started rate hike talk almost immediately.
“This pattern of behavior has never changed,” said Hunter. “They’ll try to get you in 2020, and then again in 2021.
He noted TWIA officials have ignored provisions in current law, including not using a special board to oversee what TWIA charges.
“They have (their) analysis to increase your rates 40 to 50 percent,” said Hunter.
He said the TWIA board meets in Galveston Tuesday, Aug. 6 and will say it needs the huge increase, but won’t tell you what they want.
“How’s that for transparency?” asked Hunter.
“They heard about this meeting and they sent out a press release,” he said.
“We need a new structure for a statewide catastrophic plan that includes (all natural disasters).”
Hunter noted many elected officials and interested coastal residents are traveling Tuesday to Galveston to testify against any proposed rate hike.