In 2011, Twenty seven windstorm insurance bills were filed in the Texas Legislature; none of them passed. Many rate increasing, eligibility limiting, and claim limiting provisions were included in the many bills, but very little to address restoration of adequate sources of funds to pay losses, repealed in 2009, TWIA’S [Texas Windstorm Insurance Association] greatest need.
The two bills which made it into the final process started as identical ‘companion’ bills, but the House version and the Senate version each followed separate paths. The House passed a bill that would have required any claim disputes to use a written non judicial process designed to eliminate attorney fees, that could last over 2 years. The Senate passed a bill that included a more streamlined administrative procedure, and also reduced penalties for any proven TWIA [Texas Windstorm Insurance Association] deceptive claims practices, but retained policyholder traditional legal rights to a local trial by jury.
A conference committee was appointed by the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House, to reconcile the two bills into one, but apparently never functioned. The Senate Chair was reported to have said that the bill is dead.
The Governor has called a Special Session starting May 31, 2011. So far, the ‘call’ is only known to include matters which were contained in SB 1811, a critical budget bill. Windstorm and other ‘important’ matters which also failed to pass in the regular session could be added to this call, or could be made the subject of a second Special Session called by the Governor for a later date. July 15, 2011 had been mentioned for such a call.
Report by Coastal Windstorm Insurance Coalition [CWIC], registered to Galveston Windstorm Action Committee, Inc., Lee Otis Zapp, Jr., Chair www.CWICTX.ORG .
This is addressed to the many Coastal Texans who took action in 2009 to save Texans from the amazingly devastating harms written into: HB 911, SB 14, and other bills of that ilk. Our unified actions helped to kill those bills. Instead, HB 4409 was hammered out in the final hours of the 81st Legislature, and signed by Governor Perry June 19, 2009.
To be sure, HB 4409 does no favors for Coastal policyholders, but it is extremely LESS UNfavorable than any other bill that could be passed. Be sure to thank your Senator and Representative, who joined forces to successfully fend off truly onerous provisions. [Attached are 1 page and 4 page summaries of HB 4409 as passed]
CWIC has been asked to testify August 24, 2010 to the Senate Business and Commerce Committee regarding the implementation of HB 4409. This is to request your input preparatory to testifying. Please attach a one page letter to a ‘reply’ to this email, stating your views on: Texas Windstorm Insurance Asssociation [TWIA] coverage, affordability, funding of losses [seriously LIMITED BY HB 4409], claims payment processes, and any recommendations to enhance services and improve stability of TWIA.
If your attachment is received Friday morning, August 20, 2010, we will try to include it in the official record of the hearing. A show of strength can make a difference.
Recently the new TWIA board voted to file a 5% 2011 rate increase, and additional 5% increases each year until the rate meets their actuary’s opinion of ‘enough’. Under HB 4409, TWIA can file for an increased rate of 5% or less and start to use the higher rate; the commissioner no longer has power to reject such a filing [in 2009 TWIA’s actuary reported a need for 20 – 25% increase; the ‘old’ board voted to file for 10% increase; the commissioner rejected the filiing]. CWIC will be monitoring the 2010 filing, due by August 15.
Thank you for your past participation. Prepare for 2011, spread the word: “Unite with CWIC” to reverse unjustified legislative changes; to oppose attempts to expand them.
Coastal Windstorm Insurance Coalition [CWIC]
Hosted by Galveston Windstorm Action Committee, Inc.,
Lee Otis “Otie” Zapp, Jr., President
To view or download additional information click Below:
We have added a new page, “Useful Links” for information updates such as;
Welcome to: The Office of Public Insurance Counsel
Great place to keep current about Texas Insurance Issues
COASTAL CONSUMERS PAGE
Texas Insurance issues for the Coastal Communities
New links and video clip access will be added as approved.
Your Admin. Al Miller
The Texas House of Representatives and Senate each adopted the Conference Committee report on HB 4409 unanimously in the closing hours of the 81st Legislature. Governor Perry signed the bill into law in Galveston on June 19, 2009.
Lee Otis “Otie” Zapp, Jr.
Click on links below to Review Documents
CWIC ‘BULLET’ RESPONSES TO HB 4409 ‘RULES OUTLINES’
# 1 Priority Rule: DECLINATIONS. Important because it controls every policy, every year:
Contrary to TDI outline, the Rules should NOT:
- Disallow a ‘nonrenewal’ as a declination, which by definition it is;
- Be restricted to declinations from insurers writing “new” policies; the law says “writing”;
- Be disallowed because a different insurer offers voluntary coverage [owner will eagerly accept any such offer without compulsion unless it includes serious disadvantages];
- Require owner to accept an offer of coverage at rates higher than TWIA. Owners prefer a voluntary policy—even at a marginally higher rate—the ONLY reason to ‘require’ acceptance is to require acceptance of seriously objectionable offers; it would remove all owner defenses—like baby seals for the harvesting;
- Require agent compliance procedures more extreme than Sec. 2210.202(b).
The TDI outline seems to add onerous language and meanings which are not in the statute.
It should be noted that FAIR Plan 2 year ‘declinations’ procedures are relatively simple, the FAIR Plan policy count has been minimized; TWIA procedures should not be comparably excessive.
#2 Priority Rule: CERTIFICATES OF COMPLIANCE. This already affects almost 20% of TWIA policies; it can be expected to affect a larger fraction of new TWIA policy holders.
· Every owner eligible for this ‘waiver’ of a certificate has been previously insured by a voluntary insurer, proving the property meets ‘normal underwriting standards’—the basic premise for TWIA coverage since 1971.
· Absence of a certificate of compliance [WPI-8] is not proof that the structure is not in fact built ‘to code’;
· The vast majority of properties affected by this program are in north county areas, in which the code is the least stringent;
· Every property will pay a surcharge;
· The program does not create a new exception, it extends an existing program;
· Innocent owners have been unaware of certification because their voluntary insurer did not tell them they needed it—until after they withdrew coverage.
· Sec. 2210.251(f) is crystal clear: TWIA coverage on 9/1/09 is qualification for TWIA coverage indefinitely; no time limit is even suggested.
· Therefore the Rule should not limit the number of renewals;
· The rule should continue the program for new TWIA applicants indefinitely, using the same qualifying criteria;
· Any requirement that a certificate of compliance ever be obtained defeats the primary purpose and value of the program.
#3 Priority Rule: CLASS 2 SECURITIES SURCHARGES. This is an important ‘big deal’, but opens a world unfamiliar to CWIC. Therefore, CWIC merely advocates that the Rule include no ‘surprises’, such as establishing the data on which calculations will be based, or delineating the formula with which surcharges will be calculated. Since it is a known quantity, CWIC considers the manner in which the “Chart” was developed to be the appropriate end result of the Rule. [Copy of Chart attached].
#4 Priority Rule: FLOOD INSURANCE. This is a very big deal, but attaches only to structures in the three classes of “V” zones, built, remodeled, etc. after August 31, 2009; this makes code compliance relatively certain. Cost of insurance for code compliant structures is relatively appropriate. It does have serious implications for costs of the many repairs after a major storm. The only constructive, simple, comment from CWIC is to include “actual cash value” flood coverage as being sufficient to meet TWIA requirements, since that is the maximum collectible under many federal flood policies.
#5 Priority Rule: MINIMUM PREMIUM. This should rarely occur. Adequate ‘exceptions’ should avoid any onerous concerns.
COASTAL WINDSTORM INSURANCE COALITION [CWIC]
By Lee Otis “Otie” Zapp, Jr. www.cwictx.org July 21, 2009
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association Funding as Provided by HB 4409 per Conference Committee Report
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association
Funding as Provided by HB 4409
per Conference Committee Report
INFORMAL COMMENTS RELATING TO FIVE CONCPTUAL OUTLINES OF RULES INTENDED FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF HB 4409 AMENDMENTS TO CHAPTER 2210 INSURANCE CODE
CWIC BULLETIN # 7
HB 4409 passes, just hours before
81ST LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS
Our Coastal team of Senators and Representatives, though less than 1 of 5 in the Senate, and less than 1 of 10 in the House, exerted leadership and determination on behalf of Coastal citizens, fighting off killer bills like, HB 911, and HB 4733, and reducing the problems included in SB 14. The final days saw SB 14 die in the House, then resurected by the Senate–amended to HB 4409, then passed. The final provisions were hammered out by, including matters first presented to the Conference Committee May 30, and to the public May 31. Compared to the law it replaces, many of the ‘reforms’ still in the bill are considered helpful to insurers, to the state, to inland Texans, but are troublesome to Coastal Texans. Many troublesome provisions were removed or limited by our stalwart Coastal Members. A copy of the final bill is attached.
The biggest success is that action was taken to provide new funding to pay TWIA claims and AVOID a , with its predictably more dire results.
The most troublesome action is that the new funding is LIMITED, and substantially reduces incentive for insurers to write policies voluntarily in the Catastrophe Area.
A detailed breakdown of the bill and a ‘bullets’ opinion page will be posted on our CWIC website by June 3, 2009. Please visit www.cwictx.org for this information.
Also to be listed at www.cwictx.org are the Coastal Senators and Coastal Representatives who should be thanked for their substantial efforts on our behalf.
CWIC was more organized in 2009 than it has been in quite a few years, but it is still WAY SHORT of what it NEEDS TO BE to adequately support our Members in the. Windstorm change is a never ending pendulum swing. If each of us, whose economic ‘life or death’ is at stake, do not become much more actively involved–enough to match the activism of the insurance industry–we are VICTIMS of our own malaise.
Windstorm legislation is never ‘over’; CWIC is not going to sleep. Get involved in BUILDING the communications, studies, active involvement in the many annual windstorm actions. CWIC needs ‘contact’ persons in each Coastal community to build a grassroots ‘Minuteman’ type readiness. Please let us know of your interest.
Coastal Windstorm Insurance Coalition
Galveston Windstorm Action Committee, Inc., ‘host’ of CWIC
Lee Otis “Otie” Zapp, Jr., President, June 2, 2009