There was no argument in the Insurance hearing this week that the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) is desperately broken.
Steve Mostyn, one of the prominent attorneys representing policyholders, brought a dozen charter buses full of coastal residents to the Capitol. The committee heard several hours of testimony from these TWIA policyholders of their dissatisfaction with the services provided and the claims handling process after Hurricanes Ike and Dolly, which made landfall over two years ago.
The two bills under discussion cover a variety of TWIA related topics, and there was broad support for reforming the claims process, improving transparency during TWIA meetings, strengthening building code requirements in order to received subsidized coverage, and increasing oversight for the battered quasi-state agency.
As with most omnibus bills, the initial reform attempts are just the catalyst to begin the discussions of ultimate TWIA reform. And in order to make true change, the fundamental issue of inadequate rates must also be addressed. Thus, the bills must include a measure to allow TWIA to charge actuarially sound rates over time for those who can afford it. Then, the state must utilize the federal programs available to help those along the coast retrofit their houses. And finally, TWIA should be prohibited from insuring structures built in the most hazardous areas of the state like the barrier islands.
With a combination of common sense reforms, TWIA can take a giant leap forward. I just hope the legislative discussions can refocus to include those issues which will ultimately protect Texas taxpayers.
Until next week,
Julie Drenner, Texas Director