Governor says Windstorm Special Session "possible" - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Governor says Windstorm Special Session "possible"

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

On the eve of hurricane season better than 60 percent of the property on the Texas coast is protected by a high risk, last resort carrier that's in serious financial straits.

And since state lawmakers failed to find a "fix" for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, folks from Galveston to Brownsville have been living in fear and uncertainty

Today In Austin, Governor Rick Perry responded with a fragment of hope.

"With the huge exposure that we have along the gulf coast, let me just leave it as it is a possibility as a special session item," said Perry.

At issue is TWIA's ability to pay damage claims if a significant storm hits the coast this summer.

"Right now we have the ability to pay about $3 billion dollar in losses this coming season which is larger than any storm we've ever had," said State Senator Larry Taylor of Friendswood.

Trouble is most of that money would have to be borrowed.

University of Houston Law Center insurance expert Seth Chandler discovered this week that TWIA wants a huge loan, but because of it's financial condition couldn't get permission from regulators to seek it.

"The Texas insurance commissioner as one of her outgoing acts refused to permit TWIA to borrow that sum, so they are $500 million dollars poorer than they expected to be today," said Chandler, adding "It takes cash to pay claims, not just promises."

In January TWIA had roughly a half billion dollars in cash to cover $80 billion dollars worth of exposure.

That means, if a major storm strikes this summer coastal residents would have to wait for repairs while they begged lawmakers to bail them out.

 

"We would be back in special session and we would come up with a way of paying for it at the time. Of course it's always better to do it proactively instead of reactively, to have a plan and have it already in place," said Senator Taylor.

"Good luck!," countered a skeptical Chandler.

"I don't think that the rest of Texas is going to be real eager to write them a big check after they fail to protect themselves," said Chandler, who contends coastal residents do not pay high enough premiums to cover the losses incurred by major storms.

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