Texas has struggled for years to craft a workable insurance system to cover properties in the state's coastal counties. Private insurance companies have largely pulled out of coastal areas, and the state's insurer of last resort, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), is on a precarious financial footing.
This spring, Texas legislators from coastal areas are pushing reforms that they hope will improve the situation. But the part-time Texas legislature, which meets every other year, may not have time to take up the proposals. The Beaumont Enterprise has a report (see: "Bill aimed to reform windstorm coverage," by Dan Wallach).
"State Sen. Larry Taylor, a Friendswood Republican, filed S.B. 900 this week to ensure coastal property owners have access to affordable and available windstorm insurance coverage," the paper reports. "State Rep. Greg Bonnen, also a Friendswood Republican, filed a companion bill in the House, H.B. 2245." The bill would modify the composition of the TWIA governing board to better represent the coastal counties, reports the Enterprise. And it would modify the way policies are issued and adjusted: "The fire and casualty carrier, the traditional portion of home insurance, would issue policies, collect premiums and provide claims adjusters in the case of a windstorm claim," the paper reports. "TWIA would receive the windstorm portion of the premium from the main carrier and would pay windstorm claims."
Another legislator, Beaumont Democrat Joe Deshotel, wants to legalize gambling in coastal counties as a way to fund the region's risk exposure. The San Antonio Express-News has that story (see: "Vegas on the Texas coast?" by Dan Wallach).
"The plan is fairly simple," the paper reports. "Full Las Vegas-style casinos will be permitted within a first-tier coastal county or second-tier county or in a county where its county seat is within 100 miles from a first- or second-tier county. Jefferson County is a first-tier, or coastal, county. Hardin County is a second tier county. Huntsville, for example, in Walker County, could be within 100 miles of Jefferson County. Resulting net tax revenues would be earmarked for the Catastrophe Reserve Trust Fund in TWIA to keep it out of deficit. Funds in excess of the amount needed to erase the deficit would go to general revenue."