County residents may encounter auto insurance surcharge

A Texas Division of Insurance coverage proposal to hit Cameron County motorists with a surcharge on their auto insurance policies to shore up the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association was the subject of a TDI public hearing in Corpus Christi on Wednesday.

The public can submit remarks on the proposed rule right up until 5 p.m. Monday, March 10.

The fight over how to bolster TWIA, buried by claims stemming from Hurricane Ike in September 2008, began soon soon after the storm that devastated Galveston and triggered more than $ 19 billion in injury.

“This all happened after Katrina and right after Ike,” said Ruben O’Bell, chief of workers for Rep. Eddie Lucio III, who attended Wednesday’s meeting. “That’s when they hit the panic button.”

The dread is that post-Ike TWIA would be overwhelmed and unable to adequately cover claims in the occasion of one or much more Class 4 or 5 hurricanes. As of 2009, neither Texas insurers nor the state are legally obliged to make up any shortfall stemming from such an occasion.

At the center of the debate above who ought to pay out for claims that exceed TWIA’s reserves is whether or not the burden must be shared amid all Texas residents or borne exclusively by residents of the state’s 14 coastal counties.

Despite arguments by state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, Lucio and other folks, the latter method seems to have the most traction.

“This is a extended fight that’s been occurring in excess of many sessions,” O’Bell explained. “You have (legislative) members who really don’;t reside along the coast who feel it’s a coastal problem, and coastal members who say TWIA is a statewide dilemma.”

The worst bills (from the standpoint of coastal interests) filed over a number of sessions did not get anywhere, he mentioned. Hunter has been retaining Lucio and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation in the loop on TWIA developments, O’Bell explained.

“Hunter is major the charge in the conversation amongst the coastal delegation and TDI, so we’ve been partnered up with him in making an attempt to battle this proposed rule,” he mentioned.

Whilst there’s been speak of a surcharge on all types of insurance coverage policies, the proposal TDI is pushing now strictly includes auto premiums, O’Bell said.

The certain proposed rule adjustments can be located at the TDI site, Go to “Quick Back links,” click “Rules/Codes,” then click “Proposed and Adopted Guidelines-2014.”

People who consider the burden ought to be shared by everyone argue that the coast is a large economic generator for the total state (think Houston), and that it’s only fair taking into consideration coastal residents share the danger of insuring injury from natural disasters elsewhere in Texas — tornadoes, wildfires and the like.

“We are hoping for a strong coalition of folks from every single county from Orange down to Cameron that can submit testimony towards the rule,” O’Bell mentioned. “We’re hoping that it is going to have sufficient of an impact at least to allow us to go back to the table to figure out a wise plan.”

He stated the surcharge would have a adverse influence on economic development in Cameron County. Also, many county residents currently have a difficult sufficient time producing ends meet without having an additional charge on their car insurance, O’Bell explained, adding that it could exacerbate the county’s issue with uninsured motorists.

He mentioned he doubts TDI will put into action the new rules until finally it’s collected extra public input in addition to Wednesday’s meeting. In the meantime, Lucio is trying to keep the situation in the public eye, O’Bell mentioned.

“My boss is trying to do almost everything he can do to let everybody know this could be undesirable,” he said.

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