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Local communities come out against proposed TWIA hike

Posted at 3:50 PM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 19:43:19-04

ARANSAS PASS – Representatives of seven Coastal Bend chambers of commerce and elected officials gathered Monday to tell the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association that now is not the time to raise rates.

Barely a year after Hurricane Harvey battered the region, TWIA wants to hit customers with a rate hike.

“Right in the midst of recovery, they propose a 10 percent rate hike,” State Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi said. “That’s onerous.”

TWIA says areas like Aransas Pass are about 95 percent serviced. Elected officials at today’s rally disagree, pointing at projects across affected areas that show the Coastal Bend is far from recovered.

“There’s no way we’re 95 percent recovered,” said Hunter.  “They’re trying to rush the rate hike faster than they’re paying their claims, and that’s wrong.”

Officials were joined by residents also opposed to the increase.

“We need all the help we can get,” said Aransas Pass resident Robert Branch, who blames his TWIA issues for his business not reopening.

“It’s been a year, we still haven’t opened our shell shop,” Branch said. “But the house has been fixed.”

Without steady income from his shop, Branch said there’s no way he can afford a 10 percent in his TWIA bill.

“I’d like to see it dropped, and I’d like to see the ceiling dropped to maybe 1 percent less, even to zero,” said Branch.

Protestors also called for an end to TWIA, an agency the state legislature’s Sunset Commission will consider ending during the next legislative session.

“The system is broken,” State Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, said.  “We need to eliminate it, and allow the private markets to come in and insure, and compete for our business.”

If TWIA survives the Sunset Commission, Hunter says he will introduce legislation forcing the insurance association to move its headquarters to the Coastal Bend.

TWIA’s proposed rate hike still has to be approved by Texas’ Commissioner of Insurance.  Hunter expects a decision this fall, probably in October.

Aransas Pass resident Robert Branch holds a sign protesting the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association's proposed 10% rate increase.
Aransas Pass resident Robert Branch holds a sign protesting the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association’s proposed 10% rate increase.