Texas' Insurance Gamble: Who Pays When Nature Strikes Hard?

By
Real Estate Agent with JLA Realty TREC # 0524744

Coastal Texans' Hurricane Insurance Dilemma: The High Cost of Low Premiums


Hurricane insurance has always been a topic of concern, especially for coastal Texans. An alarming revelation was recently reported in the Houston Chronicle by Chris Tomlinson, suggesting that if a significant hurricane causes damages surpassing $4.5 billion in Texas, every taxpayer might bear the burden. Here's a deep dive into the situation.

  1. The Crux of the Matter

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) board's recent decision to not increase premiums is making headlines. Despite expert warnings suggesting that residential rates need to be 20% higher (and commercial rates 22% higher) to account for the risk, the board kept the rates unchanged. This puts at risk $86.2 billion worth of coastal properties.

Galveston Island after Ike

  1. The Threat of Global Warming

As global warming intensifies, so do its repercussions. We're witnessing more severe storms, fires, and heatwaves, and as these natural calamities increase, insurance companies are being forced either to hike their rates or drop coverage entirely.

  1. Political Influence vs. Climatic Realities

Interestingly, the TWIA, which caters to the insurance needs of 237,000 property owners along the Texas Gulf Coast, has often been swayed more by political factors than financial or climatic realities. The prevailing political atmosphere and influence from coastal residents make it difficult to raise premiums.

  1. The Catch-22 Situation

Every summer, the nine-member board of TWIA, appointed by the Texas insurance commissioner, meets and deliberates on rate recommendations. However, every year, the demands remain the same: keep the rates unchanged. Even when the board did decide on a 5% rate hike this year, the decision was nullified by a 2021 law, which requires a two-thirds vote to increase rates, making the process even more complex and convoluted.

Great Storm Statue of 1900

  1. Catastrophe Reserve Trust Fund

An underfunded Catastrophe Reserve Trust Fund (only $271 million in balance) implies that TWIA relies heavily on lines of credit and other methods to fulfill the necessary payouts. Their reinsurance costs, meant to secure funds for an average storm, are set to rise from $131 million to $190 million next year, indicating a vicious cycle due to inadequate rate hikes.

  1. The Financial Strain

As TWIA's number of policies has grown by 20%, and values have increased by 36%, the organization faces mounting financial pressure. Arguments against rate increases, like those by board chair Chandra Franklin Womack, emphasize the financial strain on homeowners and business owners. But the bigger picture suggests a broader economic disaster if proper measures aren't taken.

  1. Commission Overheads

TWIA's commission structure also merits a closer look. Paying insurance agents 16% on every new policy and renewal, which is above industry standards, has led to expenses ballooning. For instance, their operating expenses for the year stand at $35 million, while commissions alone will cost them $89 million.

  1. The Looming Threat

In refusing to hike the premiums, the TWIA board is playing a dangerous game of ignoring hard data in favor of emotional and political appeals. This approach leaves Texans vulnerable to enormous costs and potential economic disasters if a major storm hits.


In conclusion
, while the plight of homeowners and the argument for affordable insurance are valid, there's a pressing need to reconcile this with the stark realities of climate change and financial sustainability. It remains to be seen how Texas will navigate this stormy dilemma.


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Navigating the real estate landscape can be daunting. That's where Danny Frank, the Pearland Real Estate Expert, steps in. With his unparalleled knowledge of the Pearland market, he offers:

Experience: Danny's in-depth understanding of Pearland homes for sale ensures that you get the best value for your money.

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Pearland, TX, is more than just a place to live—it's a community where dreams come alive. And with Danny Frank by your side, your Pearland real estate journey will be smooth, transparent, and rewarding.


 

Posted by

Danny Frank
A Texas Realtor
JLA Realty

The Pearland Real Estate Expert

Servicing all areas in the greater Houston area and the Central Texas area


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Comments (2)

Jennifer Gager, ABR, SFR, SMP
JLA Realty - Houston, TX
Helping you Home

Excellent post Danny, very informative.  Thank you

Oct 04, 2023 12:36 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Danny, with the fires, lots of hail here in Denver this past spring, and disasters, our homeowners and car insurance went through the roof.

Oct 30, 2023 11:38 AM