CORPUS CHRISTI – The United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, along with area chambers of commerce, descended upon the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel today, Dec. 5, to hold a press conference against Texas Windstorm Insurance Association’s (TWIA) proposed plan to raise rates on policyholders by 5%.
City officials from Nueces, San Patricio, Aransas and Refugio counties came together to alert coastal businesses and residents about the proposed rate hike.
Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb took to the podium and, referring to the TxDOT’s current campaign to end daily deaths on Texas roadways titled #EndTheStreakTX, said, “We need to end the streak of TWIA’s constant, persistent, unrelenting effort to try to jack our rates up every time people say good morning.
“And so we have to be a little more diligent and committed than they are. So far, so good. But don’t give up. They’re worried now.
“But we’ve got to stay vigilant and we’ve got to stay committed. I appreciate all your efforts, and we’re behind you and we just continue to let us know.
“But the moment we blink, we lose.
“So keep your eyes open, maybe even some of us should look backwards so we have the front and back covered,” he joked.
“TWIA are magicians. They can meet on a moments notice from all over the country via telephone.
“So stay with it and don’t give up.”
Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick told a story about a woman from his church who, after Hurricane Harvey destroyed a portion of her home, hired a contractor to repair it.
One day the contractor didn’t show up. Then his business shut down and he was gone. Mayor Kendrick even hired a private detective to look for the man as a favor to the woman but he hasn’t been seen since.
The woman, who lives on a fixed income, now lives in the bottom part of her home. She went to the mortgage company to get money to fix her house but was told she had to pay the money up front to fix her house before they would loan her the funds.
“That’s what we’re seeing with TWIA right now and we’re not seeing money coming from TWIA,” Kendrick said.
“When you get 50 cents on the dollar, to be truthful it’s more like 25 cents for some of my people, and if you go to visit the insurance company in our town they’ll tell you that 50% of people are happy and 50% are not happy.
“So for some reason the appraisal system isn’t right. Everybody should be happy.”
He explained that there are still blue tarps on residents’ roofs all the way from Fulton and Rockport to Port Aransas and Aransas pass.
“People are still waiting on the money,” the Fulton mayor continued. “The money’s tied up by either a contractor that walked off or mortgage company most of this time.
“With TWIA it’s tied up in litigation. As a homeowner we have no chance. We have to go to an arbitrator. If the arbitrator agrees they still don’t have to pay.
“They can walk away and say that they don’t agree.”
Mayor Kendrick said that what needs to be fixed is TWIA.
He then issued an embattled challenge to the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan to do what he was hired to do which is regulate the insurance industry and protect consumers in the second-largest insurance market in the nation and the eighth largest in the world – Texas.
“I’m a mayor of a small town and I challenge you to do something,” he added. “Step up to the plate and do your job, and your job is to make sure we can have portable homes for our children and people to live in.
“The town of Fulton and Aransas County are still suffering after Hurricane Harvey.”
Outspoken state Rep. District 32 Todd Hunter, who spearheaded the movement against TWIA for years, took to the podium and urged the coastal residents to show up to TWIA’s board meeting next Tuesday.
“Why don’t we all show up on Tuesday?” he exclaimed. “They need to see you. Your taxpayers, the rate payers.
“I’m tired of the discrimination, and it is real discrimination.
“Why are people paying them? Think about this, they have hail storms in excess of $2 billion. We get hit by a hurricane once every 48 years that doesn’t even amount to that amount of money.”
“And look at the people in our area that can’t afford to live in their home or make rent payments.
“I want them to look in your face and say we voted 0% percent in August, we filed 0% with the Texas Department of Insurance and there’s been no hurricane since August. There’s been no change in data or information.
“So why then are you increasing raise?”
TWIA will hold their next board of directors meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10 in Corpus Christi at 8:30 a.m. at the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel, 900 N. Shoreline Blvd. in downtown Corpus Christi.
The meeting will be open to the public and they will have a chance to voice their concerns to the board themselves.
Officials also urge coastal residents to email their comments before noon on Friday at PublicComment@twia.org.
The comments received will be compiled and shared with members of the board.
“Let’s be there,” Hunter said in closing. “Those that want to talk, fine. Those that don’t, be present.
“I want to give them a nice holiday greeting.”
Paul Gonzales is the editor at the News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270 or at mathisnews@mySouTex.com.