Dr. Cathy McAuliffe

2024 Democratic Candidate for Texas State House Representative (District 32)

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Living on or near the coast offers many advantages, but for coastal-area residents, bad weather can mean more than just having to hunker down inside our homes for the duration. When a hurricane – or a tornado or a thunderstorm or a strong wind – hits coastal areas, residents often face extensive repair costs.

Of course, bad weather can cause property damage anywhere. But, for people who live in inland Texas counties, storm damage is covered by standard homeowners’ insurance. However, “If you live along the coast, your homeowner’s insurance probably doesn’t cover wind and hail damage. You’ll need to buy a separate windstorm policy. Many people get this coverage from a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) policy.” *

The result? Those of us who own homes in Texas House District 32 pay more for windstorm protection than do folks who live in other areas of Texas.

The TWIA is not a government agency but was created by the Texas Legislature in 1971 to “provide wind and hail insurance in the Texas seacoast territory.” ** Yet, the core problem continues to be a political one. For example, the state legislature allowed the Houston metropolitan area to opt out of TWIA so only part of Harris County is included in the geographical area that requires windstorm insurance. Why? Perhaps because Houston has political clout and continues to lean Democratic. Exempting Houston meant not having to deal with any backlash from Democrats. Without the contribution of that considerable premium from Houston, TWIA must impose an out-sized rate on the remaining, largely non-urban and lightly populated coastal tier counties (District 32).

Democrats and Republicans alike in House District 32 are unhappy with how the current state representative has voted on this issue. For example, in 2017, Mr. Hunter voted for “the Blue Tarp Law,” a law that makes it easier for insurance companies to delay and deny after a major weather incident. In addition, there have been questions of conflict of interest surrounding TWIA: https://www.reformaustin.org/texas-legislature/conflicts-of-interest-rep-todd-hunter-to-oversee-twia/ ***

What is the solution? Keeping TWIA premium costs static or increasing the rates only slightly may seem appealing at first glance, since no one wants a rate increase. The result, however, is that TWIA is underfunded when it comes to paying the full amount for hurricane damage when extreme storms occur — which is happening more frequently because of climate change.

Coastal counties should be able to insure their potential windstorm losses through their standard homeowner coverage, just like Houston and all the rest of the State do.

* https://www.tdi.texas.gov/tips/what-is-windstorm-insurance.html

** https://www.twia.org/

*** https://www.reformaustin.org/texas-legislature/conflicts-of-interest-rep-todd-hunter-to-oversee-twia/

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